Prannoy Roy owned NDTV has withdrawn a defamation case it had filed against the activist, writer and academician Madhu Kishwar in 2014 for an article she wrote on her website Manushi.in alleging ‘unholy partnership between Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and directors of premier TV channel—NDTV’. The article accused former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram of being involved in ‘a Rs.-5,500 crore money laundering scam in collaboration with NDTV and consequent tax evasion of Rs. 3,500 crore.’.
The article further alleges that two 1999 batch IRS officers were paid bribes including an ‘all expense paid trip to Europe and Mauritius’. Kishwar had claimed of being in possession of evidence which contained a video-recording incriminating the above. The article was based on allegations based by income tax commissioner SK Srivastava, who NDTV had claimed was accused of harassing two women colleagues. The names of the 2 lady Income Tax officials are Sumana Sen and Ashima Neb. Sumana Sen’s husband Abhisar Sharma was employed with NDTV as a senior journalist, when Sen is alleged to have favoured NDTV in a Tax case, in exchange for a Rs 1 crore holiday.
Interestingly, in the tax assessment case of Abhisar Sharma, Rs 43 lacs was added to his Income in lieu of holiday expenses borne by NDTV, his employer. This all-expenses-paid holiday is said to be the bribe given to Abhisar Sharma and his wife (Sumana Sen, who was the Income Tax Officer looking into NDTV case). The effect of this addition of Rs 43 lacs is that it proves Sumana Sen and Husband received undue benefits from NDTV. Now Sumana Sen has approached Supreme court with a PIL that Sanjay Srivastava (Income Tax Officer who nailed NDTV) is harassing her and hence the order of adding Rs 43 lacs to her and her husband’s Income should be quashed. If this addition is quashed, Sumana can claim she was never bribed.
Today, NDTV has filed an urgent application in the Delhi High Court to withdraw the case against Kishwar to ‘concentrate on core areas of journalism and news telecast’.
Note: This story will be updated as and when more information is available.