Refusing to come under pressure from media companies who label every legal action against them as anti-democratic, murder of free speech, and such other rhetoric, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday searched the residences of Prannoy Roy, the co-founder and executive co-chairperson of New Delhi Television (NDTV) channel, in three Indian cities, New Delhi, Dehradun, and Mussoorie, for allegedly concealing a transaction from the SEBI and causing a loss to of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank. It also filed a case against ICICI Bank officials of criminal conspiracy, cheating and corruption.
In an interestingly refreshing statement, NDTV reportedly said that it will not succumb to the attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India. “We have one message to those who are trying to destroy the institutions of India and everything it stands for: we will fight for our country and overcome these forces”, it said.
We find this claim particularly interesting. Wasn’t it NDTV that was trying to prove, along with the likes of Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi, that India did not carry out surgical strike in Pakistan last year? How was it in the interest of the nation?
While we welcome any reform on NDTV’s part, to believe that it will walk the talk and work only in India’s interest, even when it means speaking against their friends and promoters, seems like a challenge.
As stated recently in an article exposing the negative tendency of certain organizations, although banning media agencies can be dangerous for a democracy, letting them do whatever they want to in the name of freedom of expression is even more dangerous and must be curbed. The worst part is, always eager to find faults in the present ruling party, at times such news agencies put even national security at risk. This is unacceptable.
“The CBI has alleged that RRPR Holdings took a loan of Rs 375 crore at the rate of 19 percent per annum from ICICI Bank to repay the borrowing from India Bulls. The promoters of NDTV pledged their entire shareholding in NDTV as a collateral to ICICI for this loan, it alleged. This pledging of shares was not reported to the SEBI, stock exchanges and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, according to the CBI. Such concealment was allegedly done as a creation of more than 61 percent voting capital which was in violation of Section 19 (2) of the Banking Regulation Act. It should not be more than 30 percent, the agency said. An interest waiver of 10 percent was given by ICICI. According to the Act, “No banking company shall hold shares in any company, whether as pledgee, mortgagee or absolute owner, of an amount exceeding thirty percent. Of the paid-up share capital of that company or thirty percent. Of its own paid-up share capital and reserves, whichever is less.”
“Provided that any banking company which is on the date of the commencement of this Act holding any shares in contravention of the provisions of this sub-section shall not be liable to any penalty therefore if it reports the matter without delay to the Reserve Bank and if it brings its holding of shares into conform?ity with the said provisions within such period, not exceeding two years, as the Reserve Bank may think fit to allow,” it said. The FIR said that a loss of Rs 48 crore was caused to ICICI bank and consequent gain by RRPR.” (Source Zee News)
Zee News also quoted Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu rejecting NDTV’s allegation that the probe is a witch-hunt.
“If somebody does something wrong simply because they belong to media, you cannot expect the government to keep quiet,” Naidu told reporters. The officials were doing their duty and there is no political interference in this, he said, adding that media was free and independent in the country. “The CBI might have received some information. That is why they have taken action,” Naidu said.
Rajya Sabha MP, Dr Subramanian Swamy, who has, in a letter to the Prime Minister of India, accused NDTV for money laundering, told ANI that fear of law is necessary and that nobody is above the law.
“You cannot distinguish between media people, politicians, doctors, etc. If you have broken the law then you have broken the law. We have to develop respect for the law, and for that, we have to make it clear that nobody is above the law. Fear of the law is necessary and it will be applied no matter who you are.”
On the other hand, while expressing concern over the raids, the Editors Guild of India also maintained that no individual or institution is above the law, and hoped the CBI will follow due process of law and not hamper news operations. This is required.
Hindustan Times reported that the Enforcement Department and Income Tax authorities had been investigating NDTV since 2014 in a separate case involving the receiving of funds from a foreign institution and settling of that account at 80% less than the original amount received.
“The CBI and ED have also been investigating RRPR for funds it received from foreign entities related to a telecom deal between Aircel and Maxis, as well as a case involving buying planes for the national carrier Air India, two senior officials independently told HT. The majority shareholdings of the NDTV are with the RRPR, the CBI said in the FIR, adding NDTV came to the notice of Income Tax department earlier when it found the media company floated and operated 33 shell companies with no real business, no employees and no business premises in UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Mauritius and between 2006 and 2012 to raise a fund of Rs 1100 crores.” (Source)
CLARIFICATION: It is not the concern of Mayapur Voice whether NDTV, or any other media agency for that matter, is favored or punished, and if CBI is witch-hunting or not. Our sole intention behind commenting on such affairs is the nation as we strongly believe that rise of India is the only solution to world peace. For this reason we are committed to supporting noble acts of any organization, including all media agencies and political parties, if such acts strengthen India’s integrity and influence in the world.
Historical evidences prove that the present-day India, previously known as Bharat varsh, once meant the entire planet. It was ruled by the descendants of King Bharat, like King Pandu, Dhrutarastra, Yudhisthir and Parikshit. Traces and proofs of Vedic civilization are found across the world. It is only after Kaliyuga, which began 5000+ years ago, that over a period of time Bharat has been divided into many countries. Today’s India is the remaining portion of Bharat. If India can be saved, it can save the whole world.