The Income Tax (IT) department conducted raids at the premises of media baron Raghav Bahl in connection with a case of alleged tax evasion, PTI has reported. A team of sleuths raided his Noida residence early morning and searched for documents and other evidence related to the tax evasion case that is currently being investigated. Raids were also conducted at the office of his digital news portal The Quint.
PTI also reported that searches are being conducted at the premises of a few other people as part of the IT department’s action to probe tax evasion by a set of business professionals.
Bahl a renowned media entrepreneur, is the founder of news portal The Quint and the Network18 group.
In a statement to the Editor's Guild, Raghav Bahl said that, "I have a matter of great concern to share with the Guild. While I was in Mumbai this morning, dozens of IT officials descended on my residence and The Quint's office for a survey”.
Bahl added that "We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents." He also spoke to the IT officer at his premises and requested him not to access any mail or document that was likely to contain very sensitive journalistic material.
Bahl hinted at a strong legal action in case the officers do not accede to the request, “If they do that, then we shall seek extremely strong recourse. I do hope the Editor's Guild 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. They should also not misuse their smartphones to take unauthorised copies of this material”, he said.
A journalist claimed that searches were carried out at the Bengaluru office of The News Minute where Bahl is one of the investors.
After Income Tax officers visit residence of Raghav Bahl and office of Quint, they are also at Bangalore office of The News Minute, in which Bahl is an investor, for a"survey" under Sec 133a of the IT Act, saying it's not a raid, and have asked for financial docs and audit books.— Krishn Kaushik (@Krishn_) October 11, 2018
In March 2017, PGurus website carried a report based on what it claimed was the findings of Income Tax’s Chennai Investigation Unit. As per the report, media organisation headed by Peter Mukherjea & Raghav Bahl made shares allotments to Karti’s company Advantage Strategic Consulting and its linked firms in 2008.
This was allegedly done in lieu of securing FIPB approval. The website claimed that that while Mukherjea’s INX’s paid cash in several instalments, Bahl’s Network-18 allotted 60 lakh shares of its London company called Artevea Digital UK Limited to Karti’s firm.
Responding to the allegations in PGurus, Bahl had then issued a strong statement dismissing what he described as “inaccurate” and “baseless” claims. “I am absolutely shocked at the unsubstantiated, false and defamatory content of an article published by PGurus, which links me with a UK-based company, Artevea Digital Limited,” said Bahl, Founder of Network-18 & Quintillion Media.
Bahl’s office was also quoted as saying to Exchange4Media portal that it was exploring their options against the website. “After evaluating the situation and as per legal advice, we will take legal action, if the situation so demands,”
It is not yet clear whether Bahl exercised any legal option against PGurus.
Swarajya engages the services of Quintype Technologies Pvt. Ltd. where Raghav Bahl is one of the investors.