News Desk: A day after Income Tax raided the offices of news websites Newslaundry and Newsclick, both the news portals issued their statements. The IT officials claimed that it was a survey, not raid.
Both Newslaundry and Newsclick have said in their respective statements that this was not the first instance of IT officials visiting their premises.
On the other hand, the Editors Guild of India condemned the attack and said that it was deeply disturbed about the Income Tax surveys.
Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri explained the whole incident
“They took the phones of everyone… said no one can go out. I asked if I could speak with my lawyer or accountant, and they said you cannot do this… so I could not call out”
They also took my phone and laptop… I told them it is a violation of my fundamental right to privacy, but they said ‘no,… we can do this’. The officials then asked me questions about founding of Newslaundry and its investors.
We already gave them this information when they raided in June. We’ve nothing to hide. We conduct our business honestly and with integrity.
My understanding is that they can only take information related to tax matters… my phone and laptop have medical data, family photos… don’t see how the law allows this. Not comfortable with my right to privacy being breached. As a journalist my phone and laptop could have privileged information”
Earlier today Mr Sekhri posted a formal statement on Twitter, in which he said he had been told “… the law requires me to comply without seeking legal advice”
What happened with Newsclick Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha?
“The IT team recorded the statement of Newsclick’s Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha; impounded his phone; and took away documents – what they called ‘loose papers’ from the premises.
They also took email dumps of Prabir, editor Pranjal, and various administrative and financial accounts related to Newsclick.
Around 30 employees and support staff of Newsclick were in the office throughout the ‘survey’. Their phones were temporarily seized, and they were not allowed to use their computers and work”
Editors Guild of India condemned the attack and gave it’s statement
“The Editors Guild of India is deeply disturbed about the Income Tax surveys at the offices of news websites NewsClick.in and Newslaundry.com. Such indiscriminate seizure of journalists’ data is in violation of free speech and freedom of press.
The dangerous trend of government agencies harassing and intimidating independent media must stop as it undermines our constitutional democracy.
Income Tax raids were conducted at the offices of Dainik Bhaskar and Bharat Samachar in July this year, against the background of very critical coverage of both news organisations on the government’s handling of the pandemic.
The Guild demands that great care and sensitivity be shown in all such investigations so as to undermine the rights of journalists and media organisations. Further, to ensure that such investigations are conducted within the prescribed rules and that they don’t degenerate into instruments of harassment to intimidate independent media”
Income Tax officials raided at the offices of Newslaundry and Newsclick
Income Tax officials, on Friday, raided the offices of news agencies Newslaundry and Newsclick on charges of tax evasion, an official said. He also made it clear that it’s a survey, not raid.
The official said “This is not a raid. It’s a survey. It have been carried out in the case of both Newslaundry and NewsClick. The department’s officials conducted surveys on their premises in Delhi on charges of tax evasion”