There were no raids on NDTV with the CBI not entering any office of the channel, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday while dismissing allegations that the searches were an infringement on press freedom. The Central Bureau of Investigation’s raids on the properties of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy on June 5 on allegations of bank fraud had drawn criticism from several political parties as well journalist groups such as the Editors’ Guild of India, Press Club of India and All India Newspaper Editors’ Conference.
“There is no raid on NDTV. The CBI has not entered the premises of the newsroom or TV studio or any other related offices of the media channel. The management and promoters have to stand scrutiny and answer to the people instead of blocking it and then making allegations,” Naidu said on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.
Rubbishing claims of a vendetta against the channel, Naidu said the promoters of NDTV, Prannoy and Radhika Roy, should submit to the due process of the law as there were questions on their operations that needed disclosures. “Those disclosures will be enquired into,” the minister said, indicating that the troubles for the channel are unlikely to end soon.
Naidu said the media house cannot presume itself to be above the law. “This is especially true when ownership of most media today is defined by a vertiginous web of cross-holding involving corporate and entities for whom media is not a primary business,” he said.
CBI had in a statement earlier cited a Supreme Court order of 2016 to assert that the agency has jurisdiction to take up investigation of cases of corruption concerning private banks as well. It also refuted the charge that its move against the news channel was an infringement of freedom of speech, emphasising that searches, carried out in the basis of warrants issued by court, covered only the premises and offices of promoters.
Lashing out at the Congress for alleging that the government was misusing CBI, Naidu said, “I am surprised that the Congress party is talking about the misuse of CBI. My PM was grilled for eight hours when he was Gujarat CM during UPA regime and our party president was foisted with a false case and spent time in jail. Now these people are talking about misusing CBI.”
The minister was referring to Modi being grilled in 2010 by a Supreme Court-appointed probe panel over his alleged complicity in not doing enough to stop the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat and Shah’s stint in jail in the same year in the Sohrabuddin Sheikh fake encounter case.