New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India on Monday expressed deep concern over the raids conducted by the CBI at the residence of NDTV co-founder and executive co-chairperson Prannoy Roy. The Editors Guild said in its statement, “Entry of police and other agencies into the media offices is a serious matter.”
Maintaining that no individual or institution is above the law, the Editors Guild condemned “any attempt to muzzle the media and called upon the CBI to follow the due process of law and ensure that there is no interference in the free functioning of news operations.”
CBI conducted raids at Roy’s residence for allegedly causing a loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank on a loan of Rs 350 crore between 2008-10. The agency accused the NDTV’s promoter, Radhika, private company RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd and officials of ICICI Bank of allegedly concealing share transaction from the SEBI, stock exchange and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
NDTV, in a statement, said that the raids were a “blatant attack on the freedom of the press,” and the CBI had filed its FIR based on a “shoddy complaint” by a “disgnruntled” former NDTV consultant who has not obtained a “single order from the courts.”
No unpaid loans, bank has settled, then what is the grievance?
If one goes into the details of the case, it seems a mystery who is the complainant and what wrong doing has been done!
Monday’s CBI raid on premises of Radhika Roy and Prannoy Roy, has its roots in a series of loans the Roys took starting 2008 when they sought to buy back a large chunk of NDTV shares from the market.
After the Roys had bought 7.73 per cent of NDTV shares from General Atlantic in December 2007, it made an open offer to other minority shareholders to buy back their shares as well. To fund the purchase of shares that the minority shareholders wanted to sell, the Roys created a company, named RRPR Holdings Private Limited after Radhika and Prannoy Roy. RRPR borrowed Rs 501 crore from India Bulls. With the shares of RRPR Holdings and their individual shares, the three promoters controlled the majority of NDTV’s equity.
To cover part of the India Bulls loan, RRPR then borrowed Rs 375 crore from ICICI Bank. The private bank gave RRPR Rs 375 crore in October 2008, as per the deed of hypothecation. But by August 2009, RRPR had found another lender, a company named Vishvapradhan Commercial Private Limited, to repay the ICICI loan.
VCPL agreed to pay RRPR Rs 350 crore, shows a loan agreement dated July 21, 2009; this was to be used in full to repay ICICI’s loan. RRPR’s balance sheets filed with the Registrar of Companies show that on March 31, 2009, it had a loan of Rs 349,26,14,485 from ICICI and an interest of Rs 17,21,80,697 on this loan.
RRPR and ICICI settled at Rs 350 crore, which came from VCPL, when RRPR owed Rs 396 crore to ICICI. The complainant calculated this as a loss of Rs 46 crore to ICICI. But, even as of March 31, 2016, the RRPR balance sheet shows an outstanding of Rs 4,40,53,877 to ICICI. So, the complainant has calculated, the money RRPR actually owed ICICI included this Rs 4.40 crore, so that the loss suffered by ICICI was actually Rs 42,02,04,994.
Who is the Complainant?
Surprisingly, the complaint to the CBI or Govt. was not from ICICI who is supposed to have incurred losses due to NDTV, but a private entity Sanjay Dutt, director of Quantum Securities, who filed the FIR leading to the CBI raid. There is no evidence to show that ICICI has any contract or any understanding whereby Sanjay is representing them.
ICICI is a private bank, what about defaulters of PSU Banks?
If so much concern is being shown for notional losses suffered by ICICI, a private bank, why not same concern for SBI – our leading Public Sector bank? What if a Tax payer of the country goes today to CBI office and file a case aganist Adani who has taken Rs. 7800 crores loan from SBI and not paid — will CBI raid them too?
No Witch Hunt says Naidu. Really?
Responding to NDTV’s allegation that the CBI raids were a witch-hunt, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister.
Venkiah Naidu said Monday that there was no political interference and the law was taking its course.
“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 was 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. He made these comment after NDTV, in a statement this morning, called the raids a “witch-hunt” and said: “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.”
Congress Condemns Raids
Meanwhile, the Congress criticised the move. Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken strongly condemned the CBI raids.
“It is a strong attack on the freedom of the press and the Congress party strongly condemns it. We warn the central government that it should not try to hound and threaten the media,” he said. “We are standing with the media. If the need arises, we will use democratic means to oppose this action,” he said, adding that the prime minister has used derogatory words like “bazaaru” and a Union minister had branded the media as “presstitutes”.
Maken also questioned the timing of the raids as it happened two days after a NDTV journalist’s spat with a BJP leader on a TV debate on the beef ban notification.
Another senior Congress leader Anand Sharma criticised the Centre over the CBI raids, saying it was “blatant abuse of power taking place in the country”. “Centralisation of decision-making is happening at the Centre. The media and the other voices of dissent are being muzzled. A warning is being sent to the media outlets to fall in line or face a similar fate,” Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha told reporters in Mumbai.
“The government machinery is being misused and an environment of fear is being created through the (investigation) agencies,” Sharma alleged. Maken said till the time NDTV was playing into the hands of the government everything was fine and cited several incidents in this regard, including the channel not airing the interview of former finance minister P Chidambaram.
The Delhi Congress chief and former Union minister said NDTV has done several reports against the UPA government but it never used such a policy to hound it.
Both Maken and Sharma said many BJP chief ministers and other ministers have serious allegations against them but asked why was no inquiry or action initiated against them.
“When somebody questions them, they become anti- nationals. We never did this when we were in power. Those who had no contribution towards India’s freedom have no right to preach nationalism,” Sharma said.