The Income Tax Department searched media baron Raghav Bahl’s home and office on Thursday in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion, officials said.
A team of I-T sleuths raided The Quint founder’s premises in Noida early morning and are looking for documents and other evidence related to a case of “bogus long term capital gains (LTCG) received by various beneficiaries”, they said.
Apart from Bahl, three other “beneficiaries” and professionals, J Lalwani, Anoop Jain and Abhimanyu, are being searched as part of the same action.
Their business links to offshore entities are being investigated, the officials said.
Bahl, who was in Mumbai at the time, shared his “great concern” with the Editors Guild and said dozens of IT officials descended on his residence and The Quint‘s office for a survey”.
“We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents. However, I have just spoken to the officer on my premises, one Mr Yadav, and requested him, strongly, to not try and pick up or see any other mail/document which is likely to contain very serious/sensitive journalistic material.”
They should also not misuse their smartphones to take unauthorised copies of the material, he said.
If they do that, he will seek “extremely strong recourse”, Bahl said in the statement posted on his official Twitter handle.
“I do hope the EG will back us on this, and thereby set a precedent for any such exercise that may happen on any other journalistic entity in the future,” he said.
In another statement to the media, he said he was on his way to Delhi and his wife and mother were confined to the residence and not allowed to speak to anybody.
LTCG is broadly defined as the tax paid on profit generated by an asset such as real estate, shares or share-oriented products held for a particular time-frame.
Bahl is the founder of The Quint news portal and the Network18 group and a known media entrepreneur.
— Raghav Bahl (@Raghav_Bahl) October 11, 2018
I.T raids on @TheQuint offices and its founder @Raghav_Bahl home are cause for serious concern. Taxman has the right to ask all questions, but raids look like intimidation. If there is justification, govt must explain quickly. Or it will be seen as targeting critical media.
— Shekhar Gupta (@ShekharGupta) October 11, 2018
— menaka doshi (@menakadoshi) October 11, 2018
There is “Jumla” in Income Tax Act- circumstantial evidence. Yes, the circumstantial evidence is @Raghav_Bahl @TheQuint’s independent and fearless journalism. That’s why IT search & survey @TheQuint. See our coverage and decide for yourself.
— Sanjay Pugalia (@sanjaypugalia) October 11, 2018
In absence of any convincing reason which we’ve not been told, tax raids on @Raghav_Bahl who is a fierce & sensible critic of @narendramodi govt can only be seen as harassment and intimidation. These tactics reminiscent of tin pot dictarotships not well functioning democracies. https://t.co/jm72ZyDs9F
— Rupa Subramanya (@rupasubramanya) October 11, 2018
No doubt that Quint & Raghav Bahl are being raided by the IT Dept only because they have been critical of the govt & in order to intimidate the media. IT, ED & CBI are being misused by this govt like never before https://t.co/S8OteLrpdU
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 11, 2018