Taxmen `search and survey' The Quint and owner Raghav Bahl's home
11 October 2018
Income Tax officials today carried our searches at the office of Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd in Noida, which runs the website The Quint and its owner Raghav Bahl’s residence.
Reports quoting an I-T official leading the team said they are conducting a “search” on one floor of the office, and a “survey” on the other.
I-T officers are also present at the residence of The Quint’s owner and editor-in-chief Raghav Bahl and CEO Ritu Kapur, and the office of Quintype (another company within the same corporate group).
I-T officials also are conducting a survey at The News Minute (which Quintillion Media holds a stake in) in Bengaluru.
“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 for a “survey”. We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents. However, I have just spoken to the officer on my premises, one Mr Yadav, and requested him, strongly, to not try and pick up or see any other mail/document which is likely to contain very serious/sensitive journalistic material. If they do that, then we shall seek extremely strong recourse. I do hope the EG 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. I am now on my way back to Delhi,” Bahl said in a statement to the Editor’s Guild.
“We are complying with the requests of the officers at our premises,” Dhanya Rajendran, editor-in-chief of The News Minute, said.
In response, the Editor’s Guild tweeted expressing “concern” and said, “The Guild believes that motivated income-tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom and the government should desist from such attempts.”
Besides the books of accounts, and other revenue information, the I-T officials at The Quint’s office are asking for a list of employees and their contact details.
The I-T officials initially informed the staff and Bahl that they would be conducting a ‘survey’ at The Quint’s office and Bahl’s residence, but they subsequently clarified that they were conducting a ‘search’ on one of the floors at The Quint, as well as at Bahl and Kapur’s residence. The warrant for these actions was also under Section 132 of the I-T Act, not Section 133A.
Reports said the I-T officials are attempting to clone phone data at the residence of Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur. They are also attempting to clone data from gadgets art the residences of Raghav Bahl and Ritu Kapur.