Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the founders of NDTV were detained at Mumbai city airport from where they intended to travel to an ‘undisclosed destination’. CBI, the central government agency which is investigating the Roys in tax fraud and few other financial crimes has opened a look out circular (LOC) against them and therefore immigration officials detained them.
“… A LoC was recently opened by the agency in connection with an ongoing probe against the promoters of NDTV. Acting on the same the immigration officials stopped the couple from travelling abroad on Friday” said a CBI spokesperson.
NDTV has termed it as ‘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,” tweeted the official handle of the channel.
Taking a dig at the statement linking Prannoy Roy and his wife’s detention with media freedom, Chief Economic Advisor K V Subramanian tweeted, “If a cement/steel manufacturer is stopped from leaving the country for alleged wrongdoing, does it imply that “freedom to manufacture cement/steel” is reduced? Cannot confound the two issues – (i) profession and (ii) law taking its own course. No profession is above the law!”
Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy possibly attempting to flee the country and getting detained are not alone. In the last five years, it is very visible from the actions of Modi government that it intends to create a rule based capitalist economic framework for the country. The corrupt corporates will not be spared irrespective of political ideology and industry. The businesspeople belonging across the political spectrum and industry were brought to judgment by the government.
Previously, Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the securities market regulator of the country barred the access of Prannoy Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, the promoters of NDTV, to the securities market for two years. Both promoters were also barred from holding any management position in their company, NDTV for two years. They were barred from securities markets for insider trading.
The SEBI order read, “… the Notice no. 2 (Mr. Roy) and 3 (Ms. Roy) had this avowed duty to act in a fair and transparent manner to protect the interest of their minority shareholders and not to indulge in any fraudulent activity or any activity detrimental to the interest of the shareholders of NDTV.”
“However, contrary to the same, in the present case, the Notices i.e. the promoters and directors of NDTV have been found to have indulged in fraudulent acts wherein they have bartered away the interests of NDTV…,” it added.
Prannoy Roy holds 15.94 percent shares of NDTV and Radhika Roy holds 16.33 percent. RRPR holding Pvt Ltd, a fully owned company of Roy’s holds another 29.19 percent shares of NDTV.
In 2017, CBI had raided houses of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy and at that time the Roys cried foul and portrayed it as an attack on media freedom. The order by SEBI will strengthen the case of CBI and Enforcement Directorate (ED). CBI has already filed FIR which alleged that the Roys bought a house in South Africa by the diversion of 45 crore rupees from ICICI loan. The investigation authority is yet to file charge sheet in the case, the SEBI finding will enable ED to attach properties of the Roys under Prevention of Money laundering Act and could lead to a jail sentence for as long as seven years.