The CBI has been used in the NDTV case in what appears to be a private dispute, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has alleged.
He also said that what was happening today was like an “undeclared emergency”.
The CBI on Monday searched the residence of NDTV founder Prannoy Roy in New Delhi and three other locations for allegedly causing loss to a private bank, a move termed by the channel as a “witch-hunt” based on false accusations.The agency has also registered a case against Roy, his wife Radhika and RRPR Holdings for allegedly causing loss of Rs 48 crore to ICICI Bank.
“CBI has been used in what appears to be a private dispute,” Chavan said at the Press Club Mumbai’s RedInk Awards for Excellence in Journalism, here last night.
“Emergency was a dark chapter in India’s democracy. What is happening today is an undeclared emergency,” Chavan said.
“Not many believe it, but the CBI functions fairly independently. I can say this because I have handled the Union ministry under which the CBI operates,” said Chavan, who served as the minister of state in the prime minister’s office from 2004 to 2010.
“Orders are coming right from the top,” the Congress leader said, speaking about an Enforcement Directorate probe against a former Cabinet colleague in Maharashtra government.
However, he described the Emergency and action against The Indian Express during the previous Congress rule as “aberrations”.
During a panel discussion on ‘credibility of the news media’, NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain said there was “unanimity” among domestic and foreign media organisations that the action against the channel’s founder was an assault on freedom of media.
However, he added that not everything was bleak.
Journalist Bachi Karkaria decried social media trolls, describing them as the “backup army” for the government.
Veteran journalist Vinod Dua, who received the Lifetime Achievement award from Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, asked journalists to shun the “vicarious sense of power” which comes from proximity to politicians.
The Indian Express chief editor Raj Kamal Jha received the ‘Journalist of the Year’ award.
“The award doesn’t belong to me but to the Indian Express,” he said, adding, “Our fundamental job is to tell stories.”
Jain received the RedInk award for best political reporting (TV media) for his reportage on cow vigilantes. He brought along Sanjay, his cameraperson, on stage, saying the latter had got beaten up during the reportage.
Rahul Kulkarni of ABP Majha was selected for the ‘Special Impact Award’, while Govind Tupe of Marathi newspaper Sakaal got the ‘Mumbai Star Reporter’ award.