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CBI defends action against NDTV promoters, asks not to malign agency's image

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A day after leading news channel NDTV alleged that it was being unfairly targeted, the Central Bureau of Investigation has come out with a clarification. Responding to allegations being levelled against it, the central agency has said that it "respects the freedom of the press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations". The statement from CBI comes in the backdrop of severe criticims against it following raids on properties belonging to NDTV promoters.

Dr Prannoy Roy

"It is clarified that searches have been carried out at the premises of the promoters and their offices based on search warrants issued by the Competent Court. CBI has not conducted any search of the registered office of NDTV, media studio, newsroom or premises connected with media operations. CBI fully respects the freedom of the press and is committed to the free functioning of news operations," a statement from the CBI read.

On Tuesday, the CBI clarified on the charges based on which raids were conducted against Dr Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy. Reiterating that the case was registered based on the complaint of a shareholder of ICICI bank and NDTV, the CBI claimed that due diligence was followed. "Denigrating the allegations at this stage of investigation and wrongly accusing the agency of acting under pressure is uncalled for and an attempt to malign the image of the CBI," the statement said.

The CBI statement also said that the investigation was being conducted as per the due process of law and under the jurisdiction of the Court of law. "The result of the investigation will be filed before the competent Court of law based on the evidence adduced during the investigation," CBI added.

Pointing to statements made by NDTV about its promoters never defaulting on any loan, the CBI said that the allegations under investigation were not regarding the default in loan repayment. "The allegations relate to the wrongful gain of Rs 48 crore to the promoters Dr Prannoy Roy, Radhika Roy, RRPR Holdings Pvt Ltd and a corresponding wrongful loss to the ICICI bank arising from their collusion and criminal conspiracy," it said.

Amid questions of CBI's jurisdiction to probe the matter, the agency claimed that the Supreme Court held that the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 are applicable to the officials of private banks. Therefore, CBI had jurisdiction to take up investigation of the cases of private banks.

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