The Enforcement Directorate has registered a case of violation of foreign exchange rules against BBC India, PTI reported on Thursday, citing unidentified officials.
The case has been filed under the Foreign Exchange Management Act after the central agency scrutinised foreign remittances of the British broadcaster’s India unit, NDTV reported. BBC India has been asked to show its financial statements, according to the news channel.
The case has been filed less than two months after the Income Tax department conducted a survey for nearly 60 hours at the Mumbai and Delhi offices of the broadcaster. The tax department had alleged that BBC’s income in India was not commensurate with the scale of operations in the country.
The searches had been conducted weeks after the BBC released a two-part documentary that examined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat, in which more than 1,000 people – most of them Muslims – were killed.
Several global media rights advocates and India’s opposition leaders had condemned the searches, saying the timing of the action close on the heels of the release of the documentary “smacked of intimidation”. The BBC had said that it stood by its colleagues and journalists “who will continue to report without fear or favour”.
However, the government maintained that there is no connection between the BBC documentary and the Income Tax surveys.
In March, British Foreign Minister James Cleverly had said that he had raised the issue of tax searches at the BBC offices with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. Before him, British Foreign Office Minister David Rutley had also said that his government stands with the BBC.
Recently, ties between the United Kingdom and India have been strained after a pro-Khalistan protest in front of the Indian High Commission in London on March 19. Khalistan refers to an independent Sikh state sought by some groups.
During the protest on March 19, a demonstrator had pulled down the Indian flag before a staff member at the High Commission took it back.
India had then summoned British Deputy High Commissioner Christina Scott and sought an explanation about the “complete absence of British security” due to which some protestors entered the premises of the High Commission.