Editors Guild of India says the tax administration should not exercise its powers in a way that could be seen as intimidation of the government’s critics.
New Delhi: The Editors Guild of India has taken cognisance of the Income Tax Department’s raids at the offices of news portal The Quint and the residence of its founder and promoter Raghav Bahl, saying that “motivated income-tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom”.
“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 stated.
“The government should desist from such attempts,” it added.
Bahl is a member of the Guild’s executive committee, and also one of the founders of Network18. His statement on the matter said “we are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents”.
In his statement to the Guild’s executive, Bahl had 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 for a ‘survey’.”
PTI reported that the searches are being conducted at the premises of a few other people as part of the action to probe tax evasion by a set of business professionals.
The agency quoted officials as saying that a team of sleuths raided the residence of Bahl in Noida early Thursday and were looking for documents and other evidence related to the case under probe.
Bahl also said 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 had stated.
Noting this, the Guild said it was “perturbed”.