Income tax officials on Thursday swooped down on the Noida office of news website Quint, Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd, and its owner and Editor-in-Chief Raghav Bahls' home and conducted 'search' and 'survey' operations for alleged tax evasion. Bahl is the founder of the Quint news portal and the Network18 group.which has various subsidiaries in the media, entertainment and ecommerce sectors.Surveys were also conducted in the Bengaluru based news website, NewsMinute, in which Quintillon holds a stake.
Bahl, who was in Mumbai, has denied any tax evasion." We are a fully tax compliant entity, an will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents," he said in a statement.
However, Bahl questioned the manner in which the 'survey' was being carried out by the IT officials. In an appeal to the Editor's Guild of India, the media baron sought its support as he feared it would set a wrong precedent for any journalistic entity, as it could entail picking up or seeing "any other mail/document which is likely to contain verry serious/sensitive journlaistic material."
Here is his full statement:
“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.”
“We are complying with the requests of the officers at our premises,” Rajendran was quoted on the Quint website