IT officials ‘survey’ The Quint, Editors Guild upset
New Delhi, 11 October : Income Tax officials on Thursday carried out “surveys” at the residence and office premises of Raghav Bahl, head of news portal The Quint, over alleged tax evasion, provoking angry reactions.
The Editors Guild of India has expressed concern over the search and survey conducted by the Income Tax Department today at the offices of The Quint, a media company, and at the residence of its founder and promoter, Raghav Bahl.
In a statement following the raids today the Guild noted: “Bahl is also a member of the Executive Committee of the Editors Guild of India and a founder of the Network18 group. In his statement, Bahl has said that “we are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents.”
The Guild is also perturbed over Bahl’s statement that he had to strongly advise the tax officials that they should not try and pick up or see any other mail or document which is likely to contain very serious and sensitive journalistic material. “If they do that, then we shall seek extremely strong recourse”, Bahl has stated.
While the tax administration is within its rights to make inquiries in compliance with the relevant laws, it should not exercise those powers in a way that could be seen as an intimidation of the government’s critics.
The Guild believes that motivated income-tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom and the government should desist from such attempts.”
Bahl in an earlier statement said that “dozens of IT officials descended” on his residence and offices of The Quint while he was in Mumbai, for what they said was a “survey.” He said that “we are a fully tax compliant entity and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents.” But that he had spoken to one official at his residence, a Mr Yadav, and told him not to “try and pick up or see any other mail/document which is likely to contain serious and sensitive journalistic material.”