Tuesday, March 5, 2024

IT Dept freezes NewsClick’s bank accounts, “continuation of administrative-legal siege,” says news portal

As of the evening of December 18, NewsClick has been unable to make any bank payments due to action by the Income Tax Department, said the media house in a statement on Tuesday, 19 December.

“This action, which has virtually frozen our accounts, appears to be a continuation of the administrative-legal siege of the news portal which began with the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raids in February 2021, followed by an IT department survey in September 2021, and the October 3, 2023 crackdown by the Delhi Police Special Cell. NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha and administrative officer Amit Chakraborty, arrested on that day, continue to languish in jail,” read the statement by NewsClick.

The media organisation said it has always complied with the laws of the land, including all tax regulations. “The claims levelled by the Income Tax Department are without any basis,” it said.

The NewsClick further said it did not receive any intimation of the freezing of accounts, and the staff found it by chance while trying to make routine payments last evening.

“As a result of this high-handed action, salaries of all employees — journalists, videographers, and administrative and support staff — and consultants and contributors cannot be paid, including for the 19 days of December they have already worked,” it said.

“Coming at the year-end festive season, this sudden action has left all our employees shocked. Since there is no indication of when our accounts will become accessible, there is uncertainty in the minds of all employees and their families, especially those who are completely dependent on salaries from NewsClick,” it said.

The statement further read: “NewsClick and its legal counsel are reviewing the developments. Subsequently, legal appeals against this unjust and cruel measure will be initiated at the earliest. NewsClick and its courageous journalists remain committed to continuing their work for as long as possible. As always, we appeal for continued solidarity, which has been a source of support and encouragement to us.”

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