As per a very sternly worded notice issued by the Income Tax Dept. (ITD) to New Delhi Television (NDTV) on June 16, 2017, a copy of which has been sent to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax, DCIT 18(1) [Assessing Officer of NDTV and Prannoy Roy along with RRPR Holding P Ltd] has stated that they are acting in contravention of Orders of the Delhi High Court (HC) and going ahead with sale of material assets of NDTV while tax demands are still pending. The ITD states that they owe the Department close to Rs. 800 crores in taxes and thus they cannot sell their assets without the consent of Assessing Officer (as specified in the Act). Further, as the Delhi HC in its order of September 23, 2015, has restrained them from making any sales, according to this notice, thus, NDTV is clearly in contempt of court.
What is surprising is that PGurus had raised this very issue on May 28, 2017, and had also circulated its article to SEBI and other Govt agencies. Why is it that till date SEBI and other agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) (who have already registered a FIR) not intervened in this process for sale? It is high time that all agencies work in a co-ordinated manner and ensure that Roys don’t get away with further illegal acts, cheating, and fraud. Further, why hasn’t the Income Tax Department moved the Delhi HC for Contempt of Court? Not only has the ITD written to NDTV and SEBI etc., but it has also sent the Notice (copy below) to Nameh Hotels and Resorts P Ltd. (the Coal scam group company that is buying these assets/subsidiaries from NDTV).
In addition, it is relevant to note that the voting rights of the Roys and RRPR Holding P. Ltd. itself are invalid as SEBI in its filing with the Delhi HC (in December 2016) has explicitly stated in an affidavit that change of control of NDTV has taken place in favour of a bogus entity Vishwapradhan Commercial P Ltd (VCPL). Of course, all this is also a matter of investigation by CBI as this dubious change of control allegedly involves ICICI Bank, the Roys, and VCPL. CBI is looking at all these issues along with the Enforcement Directorate as a few shell companies/smoke screen entities are involved in routeing money (over Rs. 400 crores) to RRPR Holding P Ltd., and as on date, the ownership of NDTV itself is not clear.
Will the Roy’s now answer all the questions raised by SEBI and Income Tax along with CBI or keep hiding behind the fig leaf of “Freedom of the Press”? CBI has very correctly issued a strong rebuttal to New York Times by saying that this FIR is just a “tip of the iceberg.”
Copy of ITD letter to NDTV
1. The conversion rate used in this article is 1 USD = 64.67 Rupees.
2. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.