Income Tax officials on Friday visited the offices of news websites Newslaundry and Newsclick in Delhi to conduct what they claimed were “survey operations”, PTI reported. The operation aimed to verify tax payment details and remittances made by the organisations, officials said.
Around seven officials of the Income Tax department visited Newslaundry’s office in Sarvodaya Enclave in South Delhi at 11.45 am on Friday, Scroll.in has learnt.
The officials took away phones from all the employees and switched them off. They also did not allow any of the company’s employees to leave the office premises.
The tax officials went to the office’s accounts department to clone the devices there, a person familiar with the situation told Scroll.in. The officials asked for certain documents, which the company has provided, the person said.
The operations are still under way and officials are questioning Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri.
Scroll.in could not contact NewsClick Editor in-chief Prabir Purkayastha as his phone was switched off.
In February, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted raids at the office of NewsClick and Purkayastha’s home based on Delhi Police’s allegations of money laundering.
The police had alleged that Purkayastha had received Rs 9.59 crore in Foreign Direct Investment from a firm named Worldwide Media Holdings in the United States in the financial year 2018-’19. They claimed that PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited, which owns NewsClick, overvalued its shares to escape the 26% limit on Foreign Direct Investment for news websites.
In July, the Delhi High Court had granted interim protection from coercive action against Purkayastha and PPK NewsClick Studio Private Limited till September 2.