New Delhi, October 11: Officials of Income Tax department raided properties belonging to media tycoon Raghav Bahl on Thursday morning. The IT department searched Bahl's house and the office of news portal 'The Quint' in Noida. The raids are allegedly for the probe against connection with tax evasion. Raghav Bahl is the founder of the Network18 and Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd and is known as one of the successful media entrepreneurs.
Raghav Bahl, in a statement to the Editors Guild of India, 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’.”
“We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents,” his statement released on Twitter said.
“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,” he added.
“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.”
— Raghav Bahl (@Raghav_Bahl) October 11, 2018
After the Bahl's statement to Editors Guild of India (EGI), the EDI has condemned the IT raids and wrote a statement in its Twitter wall.
"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 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 seel extremely strong recourse," Bahl 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 an intimidation of the government's critics.
Editors Guild of India expresses concern over the search and survey conducted by the Income Tax Department at the offices of The Quint and at the residence of its founder Raghav Bahl. pic.twitter.com/uEaAzMOZyl
— Editors Guild of India (@IndEditorsGuild) October 11, 2018
The Guild believes that motivated income tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom and the government should desist from such attempts."
The searches were in connection with tax evasion said news agency PTI and searches are being carried out at the premises of few more people as a part of IT raids.