CBI has filed a new FIR on Wednesday against NDTV and its founders, Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, apart from former CEO Vikram Chandra and unknown public servants for alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption in a case of an alleged violation of FDI norms.
The news channel has now issued a statement over it. In its statement, NDTV has again claimed that it is an attack on press freedom and called the charges “fabricated”. It said, “As part of the continued persecution of free press, a new CBI case has been filed about a $150 million investment in NDTV’s non-news business by NBCU, then owned by General Electric, a massive American conglomerate. The case makes the ludicrous charge that the transaction, declared to all relevant authorities in the US and India, laundered money for unknown public servants.”
NDTV also claimed that investigative agencies have not found any evidence of corruption against them. It said, “Despite a series of cases in which the investigation is deliberately stalled, agencies have found no evidence of any corruption by NDTV.”
The NDTV claims that the charges are not specifically about the accused but a larger moral battle between Good and Evil. It says, “Attempts to silence free and fair reportage through malicious and fabricated charges will not succeed. This is not about a company or individuals but about a larger battle to maintain the freedom of the press, something which India has always been renowned for.”
People have noted that somehow the media always wants ordinary citizens to believe that allegations of criminal conduct against ’eminent’ media personalities are always about a larger moral battle and never about the specific charges that have been labelled. The full details of the charges that have been labelled in the new FIR can be read here.
NDTV founders Prannoy Roy and his wife, Radhika Roy, were earlier prevented from leaving the country recently, the channel claims. In a statement published on its website, the channel has called it a ‘subversion of media freedom’. NDTV in a statement said that they had been stopped on the basis of a “fake and totally unsubstantiated corruption case” filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation about an ICICI Bank loan that their company, RRPR Holdings, had taken.
The brief statement reads, “They have been stopped from travelling abroad on the basis of a fake and wholly unsubstantiated corruption case initiated by the CBI that was filed two years ago and in which Radhika and Prannoy Roy have been fully cooperating. Today’s action is, along with events like raids on media owners, a warning to the media to fall in line – or else.”
While NDTV cries hoarse about ‘freedom of the press’ being curbed, the allegations of financial impropriety against Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the promoters of NDTV are extremely grave. More importantly, judicial bodies and statutory investigation agencies have found them in violation of major laws and in some cases held them guilty of fraud, manipulation and use of “deceptive financial instruments” to hide real ownership of NDTV. The full details of the NDTV-ICICI case can be read here.