The raids on the Center for Policy Research, the Independent And Public-Spirited Media Foundation and other organizations have been criticized as an attempt to intimidate independent media.
The Independent and Public-Minded Media Foundation (IPSMF) and the Center for Policy Research (CPR) on Friday, September 9, released statements on the Department of Income Tax searches carried out at their offices there two days old. IT department officials had visited the offices of CPR, Bengaluru-based IPSMF and global NGO Oxfam India in connection with alleged breaches of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in funds received by them . In a statement, the IPSMF said the foundation had not received any foreign funding at any time and had only funded media entities.
“A team of income tax officials came for an ‘investigation’ at the Bengaluru office on Wednesday and stayed until 4:30 a.m. on Friday morning, going through Foundation papers and records and asking questions,” said the IPSMF. The statement goes on to say, “Foundation staff were cooperative and answered all questions put to them on a wide range of topics. Officials took statements from three senior executives. All laptops and cell phones were taken for data cloning and returned last night.
“All staff members other than CEO Sunil Rajshekhar were allowed to return home at various stages on the evening and night of September 7, and were told to return the following morning for further questioning. The CEO slept in the office for a few hours on the night of September 7-8,” the statement added.
“The Foundation believes that its affairs are entirely in order. Some media reports of the computer investigation linked it to foreign funding and political party funding. We would like to clarify that the Foundation has not received any foreign funding at any time and has only funded media entities. The Foundation believes in its mission to support independent and public-minded media, and intends to continue its work,” the IPSMF said.
The Center for Policy Research also released a statement saying that IT officials remained in their office for two days and the team provided full cooperation to the department during the investigation. “As one of the 24 research institutes in the Indian Council of Social Science Research network, CPR has all the required approvals and sanctions, and is authorized by the government as a beneficiary under the foreign contributions (regulation),” the CPR CEO said. Yamini Aiyar said in a statement.
“We hold ourselves to the highest standards of compliance and are confident that we have done nothing wrong. We are committed to working with authorities to answer any questions they may have. We remain committed to our mission to provide rigorous research to policy-making in India,” the statement added.
Oxfam India also issued a statement regarding the “tax investigation”, stating: “The income tax investigation team took away hundreds of pages of data relating to Oxfam India’s finances and programs. They also took all the data by cloning the Oxfam India server and the private mobile phones of the management team and finance manager. While the team that conducted the investigation was polite and professional; the process of an investigation with such sweeping powers and such a wide scope has resulted in the disappointment of Oxfam India, a law-abiding and community-focused organisation.
“Oxfam India complies with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including income tax and Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) returns, in a timely manner since its inception. This income tax investigation was undertaken without giving a reason. Oxfam India has cooperated with the Income Tax Service during this investigation and is committed to doing so in the future. In January 2022, we also had a week-long detailed audit of the FCRA accounts by the auditors appointed by the FCRA division,” the statement read.
“At a time of growing inequality and heightened need for action to eradicate poverty, Oxfam India has been and will continue to work in the public interest. We are guided by the principle of creating lasting solutions to fight the injustice of poverty, leave no one behind, end discrimination and create a free and just society. Oxfam India believes it is our constitutional duty as an organization regardless of the hurdles and hurdles in the way,” he said.
The IT department had visited the premises of these organizations around noon on September 7 and inspected the books of accounts and financial transactions as part of the investigation related to the alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA), sources told PTI. Office staff and key directors and office members were also questioned, the sources said. Congress had criticized the Union government for the raids, calling them a deliberate move to exterminate all independent media and voices.
Read also : Digipub strongly condemns the computer raids against the Center for Policy Research, Oxfam and IPSMF
Disclosure: The Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation has provided financial support to Spunklane Media Private Limited for the purpose of reporting and publishing public interest stories in the “Delve” section. IPSMF takes no legal or moral responsibility for content posted by Spunklane Media Private Limited on its website www.thenewsminute.com or any of its other platforms.