The Roys were stopped at the Mumbai airport on Friday night from catching an overseas flight on a request by the CBI, which had filed a lookout circular against them over a case filed by the agency.
Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, co-founders of New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV), are planning a legal challenge against the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for stopping them from flying abroad, an executive at the news broadcaster said on Saturday.
“We will definitely approach the court,” the executive said, requesting anonymity, without giving further details.
The Roys were stopped at the Mumbai airport on Friday night from catching an overseas flight on a request by the CBI, which had filed a lookout circular against them over a case filed by the agency, CBI spokesperson Nitin Wakankar said the previous day.
A lookout circular is a notice issued to airports, seaports and immigration authorities to check whether a traveller going abroad is connected with an offence in India. CBI officials said the circular against Prannoy and Radhika Roy was preventive in nature and there had been no effort to detain them.
Federal agents have named Roy, his wife Radhika and a private company linked to NDTV, RRPR Holding Private Ltd, among others, in a criminal case for allegedly causing losses to ICICI Bank.
In a statement on Friday, NDTV said: “In a complete subversion of basic rights and in shameful continuance of the campaign to warn the media that nothing less than complete obeisance is acceptable, NDTV founders Radhika and Prannoy Roy were today prevented from leaving the country; they were scheduled to spend a week abroad and their return was booked for the 15th.”
“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,” the broadcaster added.
In 2008, ICICI Bank gave the private holding company a loan of Rs 366 crore on personal guarantees by the Roys, who pledged their NDTV shares.
Within a year, ICICI settled for foreclosure of the loan, agreeing to a part-waiver of interest that allegedly resulted in a loss of Rs 48 crores for the bank, the CBI’s formal investigations launched last week said. The Roys moved out an equivalent amount from RRPR’s bank account, it alleged.
“Radhika and Prannoy Roy have been fully cooperating with the case and 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 is, along with events like raids on media owners, a warning to the media to fall in line – or else,” NDTV had said in its Friday statement.
A finance ministry official said the law was taking its own course. “The government cannot step in just because one person is very influential,” the official said, requesting anonymity.
The CBI “must have taken the action based on some concrete evidence, which is best known to them,” another government official said. “The government is taking all bank frauds very seriously, irrespective of persons involved and the law is equably applicable to all.”
Source: Hindustan Times