NDTV founders Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika were stopped from boarding an international flight Friday at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, a move that the channel said was a “complete subversion of basic rights”.
Sources at the Bureau of Immigration confirmed that the Roys were due to fly to Nairobi on a Kenya Airways flight at 4.45 pm from Mumbai but were stopped by the authorities from boarding. Airport officials said that the Roys were not detained, and allowed to go after being informed by immigration authorities that they cannot leave the country.
In a statement, NDTV said that the detention was a “shameful continuance of the campaign to warn the media that nothing less than complete obeisance is acceptable”.
In 2017, the CBI had registered a case against the Roys, a private company and others for causing alleged losses to a private bank. The case reportedly relates to a bank loan default of Rs 48 crore taken from ICICI Bank in 2008. According to the FIR, the loan defaulted by NDTV’s Prannoy Roy is for a company named RRPR Holdings Private Limited.
“NDTV and ICICI entered into a criminal conspiracy to transfer ownership of a news company (NDTV) to a shell company, against banking rules and the SEBI Act,” the CBI had said in its FIR.
NDTV’s statement added that the couple was scheduled to travel aboard for a week and had return tickets booked for August 15.
“They have been stopped on the basis of a fake and wholly unsubstantiated corruption case filed by the CBI about an ICICI loan that was taken by their company, RRPR, which was fully repaid with interest ahead of schedule. The case has been challenged by the NDTV founders and their company in the Delhi High Court where the matter has been pending for two years,” said the statement.
It said that the Roys had been cooperating with authorities and that Friday’s actions were a warning to the media to fall in line.
“…they have been travelling abroad regularly and returning to the country, so to suggest they are a flight risk is ludicrous. The authorities did not inform the court, where the matter is sub judice, or the Roys, about today’s action,” it said.