Tahlka News Bureau
New Delhi: Pranaoy Roy, founder of New Delhi Television (NDTV) on Friday said that he and his company had never touched black money or bribed anyone during a meeting at the Press Club of India in New Delhi before hundreds of journalists. Roy, in a passionate speech said that the media group "will answer every one of the false charges", but sought a time-bound process. "We ask for transparency and a deadline," he said.
"I commit to you, me and Radhika (Roy) and NDTV have never touched one rupee of black money, never bribed one person in our lives," Roy said.
He also alleged that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) of being abused by the politicians. "This not about NDTV. They are trying to tell you, 'We will fix you, even if you are innocent'." Speaking before an array of eminent personalities and senior journalists spoke about out against what was seen as the government's attempt to muzzle free press.
Senior Journalist H K Dua began the proceedings comparing the situation to the times of the Emergency and Rajiv Gandhi's move to bring the defamation Bill. "Its not just NDTV; if you don't fall in line, you will meet the same fate. That's the message. If this is not attack on freedom of press (what is)?" Dua asked.
While, former Union Minister Arun Shourie began by thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for bringing all friends of the media together. In a speech that was oozing with trademark sarcasm and humour, Shourie said, "They are using instruments of overt pressure, they have made NDTV example of it. This will intensify in the coming months."
He urged the journalists to give it back the trolls by getting active on social media, said if journalists think they could get away with this by giving concessions to people in power by carrying their columns and interviews, their hopes are misplaced. Shauire told the journalists to "redouble" their efforts in doing critical coverage.
"We have only three protections – our solidarity, the court and the protection of our own readers and viewers," he said.
Swenior lawer and constitutional expert Fali Nariman pointed out several lapses in the process followed by the CBI in conducting the raids. Asserting that freedom of speech was all about freedom after speech, Nariman said, "The manner and circumstances of the CBI raids give me reason to believe that it was an unjustified attack on press and freedom of media."
He said that according to Article 19 of the Constitution, media owner are entitled an opportunity to give their replies before such action are initiated against them.
According to which, the CBI should have ideally directed the complaint to file a criminal case since it seemed more a dispute between two private persons. On Monday, CBI had conducted raids at the residence of Roy after registering a case based on complaint by Quantum Securities, a firm run by a Delhi-based Broker and NDTV shareholder Sanjay Dutt.
Several speakers at the meeting pointed to this timeline as evidence of the government's intentions. The who's who o fthe capital's media community was presented at the Press Club.