Update: No politics in raids at NDTV offices, CBI must have received some info, says Naidu

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: The information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu has denied any political interference in the CBI raids on NDTV's Prannoy Roy, and said the law would take its own course.

The CBI registered a case against the pioneers of Indian television NDTV founder Roy and his wife Radhika Roy, for causing an alleged loss to a bank. Searches are reportedly being conducted at the residence of the Roys in New Delhi and three other places including Dehradun.

NDTV, in a statement, said: the CBI stepped up the concerted harassment of NDTV and its promoters based on the same old endless false accusations. NDTV and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies.

Naidu, however, told reporters: “If somebody does something wrong but simply because they belong to media, you cannot expect the government to keep quiet."

Stressing that the media is free and independent, he said the officials were doing their duty "The CBI might have received some information. That is why they have taken action," Naidu said.

The case reportedly is about ICICI bank loan default ofRs 480 million. As per the Supreme Court order in the Global Trust Bank case in February 2016, the court said private banks heads should also be treated as public servants under the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the FIR, the default by Roy is for a company named RRPR Holdings Private Limited.

NDTV however said the company and its promoters will fight tirelessly against this witch-hunt by multiple agencies. We will not succumb to these attempts to blatantly undermine democracy and free speech in India. 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.

On Twitter, NDTV managing editor Sreenivsan Jain said: “Message is clear: any independent voice in media will be bullied and shut down. Black day.” Executive editor Nidhi Razdan said: “A message to those in the media who are still independent and do their job by fearlessly asking questions. We won’t be intimidated.

BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy last year sent a letter to PM Modi seeking a CBI and ED probes into charges of money laundering. Last December, the Securities and Exchange Board of India had started proceedings against NDTV and its promoters for not having made a public announcement in 2009 of a ‘change of control’ in the television company. SEBI had in June 2015 imposed a Rs. 2 crore fine on NDTV for “non-disclosure of material information to the stock exchanges.”

Last week, NDTV announced that it will shut down its business channel NDTV Profit and turn into a full-time infotainment and entertainment channel.

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