IT raids at media baron Raghav Bahl’s home and Quint office

The Editor’s Guild of India, in a tweet, asked the Income Tax Department to “not exercise powers in a way that could be seen as an intimidation of the government’s critics”.

New Delhi: The Quint and Network 18 Founder Raghav Bahl’s home and office in Noida were raided this morning by Income Tax officials.
“Income Tax officers on Thursday, 11 October, entered the office of Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd in Noida, which runs the website The Quint and is owned by Raghav Bahl. According to the I-T officer leading the team, they were conducting a “search” on one floor of the office, and a “survey” on the other,” reported Quint.
The Editor’s Guild of India, in a tweet, asked the Income Tax Department to “not exercise powers in a way that could be seen as an intimidation of the government’s critics”.
Raghav Bahl, in a statement to the Editor’s Guild, said: “I have a matter of great concern to share with the Guild. While I was in Mumbai this morning, dozens of IT officials descended on my residence and The Quint’s office in Noida for a survey.”
Stating that he was heading back to Delhi, Mr Bahl stressed, “We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents.”
His mother and wife were confined to their house. A report said that the I-T officers at the residence of Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur are also attempting to clone data from Ms Kapur’s gadgets.

“He said he had spoken to the officer on his premises and requested him, strongly, to not try and pick up or see any mail or document that was likely to contain very serious or sensitive journalistic material. “If they do that, then we shall seek extremely strong recourse. I do hope the EG (Editor’s Guild) will back us on this, and thereby set a precedent for any such exercise that may happen on any other journalistic entity in the future. They should also not misuse their smartphones to take unauthorised copies of this material,” reported NDTV
Expressing concern over the raids, the Editors Guild of India, in a statement, said, “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 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.”

News agency Press Trust of India quoted officials as saying that the searches were in connection with “tax evasion”. Searches are being carried out on a few more people as part of the Income Tax Department’s investigation of tax evasion by business professionals, PTI said.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, asked about the raids and whether they were an attempt to suppress the media, said: “We believe in freedom of press and democratic values. If any media house is involved in corruption, they have to answer.”.
Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta expressed serious concern, saying the raids looked like intimidation of media critical to the government.

Journalist Ashutosh, who quit the Aam Aadmi Party recently, tweeted: “Raghav is one of the most credible media personalities. Now he is paying the price for being anti-establishment, criticising Modi Government.
Offices of The News Minute in Bengaluru were also being raided. “Quintillion is also an investor in The News Minute, and officers from the department also visited TNM’s office in Bengaluru. Officers at TNM office said that the visit was a ‘survey’ under Section 133a of the IT Act, and not a search or a raid. The officers asked for financial documents and audit books to be shown to them. “We are complying with the requests of the officers at our premises,” said Dhanya Rajendran, Editor-in-Chief, The News Minute.



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