NewsClick on Tuesday said that the Income Tax Department has “virtually frozen” its bank accounts, restricting it from paying salaries to its staff.

The action by the Income Tax Department appears to be a continuation of the “administrative-legal siege”, the news website said in a statement, highlighting the Enforcement Directorate’s raids against it in February 2021, an Income Tax Department survey in September 2021 and the October 3 crackdown by the Delhi Police Special Cell.

On October 3, Delhi Police raided several journalists associated with NewsClick and arrested the website’s founder, Prabir Purkayastha, and human resources head, Amit Chakraborty, in a case filed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The police have alleged that the news organisation received money to spread Chinese propaganda.

In 2021, the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing had filed a case against NewsClick, alleging that it had received foreign direct investment from a United States-based company in violation of a law that caps foreign direct investment in digital news websites at 26%. The Enforcement Directorate had raided NewsClick’s offices and the editor’s home in February 2021 in connection with the case.

On Tuesday, NewsClick refuted the allegations, saying that it “has always complied with the laws of the land, including all tax regulations”.

The news website said its counsel was reviewing the matter and would take legal recourse against the “unjust and cruel measure”.

The news organisation alleged that its bank accounts were frozen without any intimation. NewsClick added that its staff had discovered that its accounts had been allegedly frozen by chance while trying to make payments.

“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,” NewsClick said.

As there is no indication from the Income Tax Department about when the bank accounts will become accessible again, “there is uncertainty in the minds of all employees and their families, especially those who are completely dependent on salaries from NewsClick,” the news organisation added.

Meanwhile, the police moved a Delhi court on Tuesday seeking more time to complete the investigation in the case against NewsClick, PTI reported.

Also read: Witnessing the NewsClick raids, up close and personal