Noted constitutional expert Fali S Nariman on Friday slammed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for searching the residences of the private television channel NDTV's founder Prannoy Roy.
Nariman told a meeting of journalists here that while no one was immune from prosecution for a crime, the justification given by the CBI made him believe that this was an assault on the press and media freedom.
On June 2, an FIR was lodged by CBI -- alleging criminal conspiracies, cheating by Roy, his wife Radhika, NDTV, unknown officials of ICICI about "something that took place during 2008-09, he said. "Why was it not brought to light earlier was not mentioned anywhere."
Nariman said the FIR was filed by the CBI on the basis of a single complaint and not based on any discovery. "The FIR was filed solely on the information provided by a private individual."
He said the CBI raids took place just days after BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was told to leave a show on NDTV for accusing the channel of having an agenda.
Nariman emphasised that the CBI instituted a criminal inquiry against Prannoy Roy immediately after receiving the complaint.
"It should have told the complainant to file a complaint in a criminal court but rather the raids took place and were carried out as widely publicised."
"We citizens enjoy freedom, which is not there in many places in the world. There is a freedom of speech guaranteed in the constitution."