The Income Tax Department on Friday morning conducted “surveys” at the south Delhi offices of digital news platforms NewsClick and Newslaundry, say the employees of both media organisations.
The Wire reported that the ID officers were still at the scenes and no other information on the case was immediately available.
The Income Tax department confirmed to PTI news agency that its officers had gone to the offices of the news portals in south Delhi “to conduct surveys” and not “raids”
The surveys are linked to allegations of tax evasion, officials said, adding that the account books of the portals are being examined.
A Newslaundry employee said that the taxmen came around 11.30 AM and haven’t left.
“Employees in the office were asked not to use their cell phones,” the employee claimed.
Maktoob tried to contact some of the journalists at NewsClick and Newslaundry but their phones were switched off.
“There is a search and seizure order, so the phones of all persons present in the office have been seized, making it difficult to get any information,” a senior NewsClick employee who is working from home told The Wire.
The new IT officials’ “Surveys” come 6 months after NewsClick and its founders were raided by the Enforcement Directorate in February in a money laundering case following a Delhi Police FIR that alleged the company had received foreign direct investment (FDI) of ₹ 9.59 crore from Worldwide Media Holdings LLC USA in the financial year 2018-19.
Press freedom watchdogs, politicians and activists had condemned the action of Union government’s agency, saying it was an attempt to silence independent journalism, and to intimidate those who do not toe the official line.
Newslaundry also has been raided by the I-T department before, in 2014.