NDTV Founders Stopped From Leaving India, Channel Calls it ‘Subversion of Media Freedom’

The action stems from a two-year-old CBI case involving repayment of a loan to ICICI Bank.

New Delhi: Prannoy and Radhika Roy, co-founders and promoters of the news channel NDTV, have been stopped from flying out of India over action taken by authorities based on a two-year-old Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) case against them.

In a series of tweets put out on Friday evening, NDTV has called the action “complete subversion of media freedom”. 

“In a complete subversion of basic rights, NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy were today prevented from leaving the country,” one of the tweets said. 

A report in India Today claimed that the husband-wife duo were stopped at the Mumbai airport.

Another tweet in the thread put out by NDTV said that both journalists had tickets to return to India on August 16th itself. 

The decision to stop them from leaving the country appears to be over a case initiated by the CBI against the couple two years ago. The channel has termed the case “fake and wholly unsubstantiated”. 

The last tweet in the thread says the couple has been “fully cooperating” in the case. Linking it to “raids on media owners”, it says this action is a warning to media owners to “fall in line”. 

In a more detailed statement on their website, the broadcaster has called it “shameful continuance of the campaign to warn the media that nothing less than complete obeisance is acceptable”. 

Also read | What We Know and What We Don’t About the NDTV-ICICI Bank Case 

The action is based on a 2-year-old case where the CBI had, in a complaint by a private individual, lodged an FIR against NDTV, Prannoy and Radhika Roy, their holding company RRPR Holding Pvt Ltd and unknown officials of ICICI Bank in 2017 citing “criminal conspiracy, cheating and criminal misconduct”.

The CBI’s FIR has alleged that the manner in which NDTV’s promoters repaid a loan to ICICI Bank in 2009 sparked a number of potential legal and market violations.

The channel claims that the loan from ICICI Bank on which the case is based was “fully repaid with interest ahead of schedule”.

The company’s statement further claims that the case has been challenged in the Delhi High Court where the matter been pending for two years. “The authorities did not inform the court, where the matter is sub judice, or the Roys, about today’s action,” the statement adds. 

In 2017, raids and searches were conducted at four different places in Delhi and Dehradun, including the personal home of the Roys. The channel had then said the action “blatantly undermined democracy and free speech in India”.

The channel found itself entangled in another controversy when earlier today, the official twitter handle of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s party, used a short video clip from the news channel’s coverage of people’s reaction to the scrapping of special constitutional provisions for Jammu and Kashmir in a tweet. 

“For all those in New Delhi living in the delusion that Kashmir is happy over the scrapping of Article 370, union of J&K territory, an old Kashmiri has a msg: “Lift the curfew for a day and we’ll let them know how happy we [Kashmiris] are”. Can Modi do that?” the tweet said.

The hashtag #SaveKashmirFromModi was also used in the political party’s tweet. 

The channel faced cricitism after PTI’s tweet started going viral. After this, NDTV tweeted out a clarification, condeming “attempts by Pakistan to distort Indian media coverage”.