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EGI, FMP condemn IT ‘surveys’ at offices of news websites and


“The dangerous trend of government agencies harassing and intimidating independent media must stop as it undermines our constitutional democracy,” said the Editors Guild of India. It was “raid in the guise of a survey”, added the Foundation for Media Professionals.

TFM News Service

Editors Guild of India (EGI) has condemned Income Tax (IT) department’s co called “surveys” at the the offices of news websites and

In a press statement, EGI said that it was “deeply disturbed” by the Income Tax “surveys” at the offices of the news websites.

On September 10, 2021, teams of IT officials visited the offices of the two organisations and conducted investigations through the day. While they were officially labelled as “surveys” by the IT officials, but as per the statement issued by Abhinandan Sekhri, co-founder of Newslaundry, this was a clear intimidatory and blatant attack on their rights, and therefore press freedom, said the EGI statement.

It was learnt that the IT team made clones of Sekhri’s mobile and laptop, as well as some other office machines, and no hash value was given to them. “This is clearly beyond the mandate of surveys as defined under section 133A of the Income Tax Act, which only allows data pertaining to the investigation to be copied, and certainly not personal and professional data of journalists. It is also in violation of procedures laid out in the Information Technology Act, 2000”, said EGI.

The guild stated that it was “deeply concerned that such indiscriminate seizure of journalists’ data, which could include sensitive information such as details of sources, stories under works and other journalistic data, is in violation of free speech and freedom of press”.

This was the second visit by an Income Tax team at the office of Newslaundry, the earlier one being in June. In case of NewsClick, the Enforcement Directorate had conducted raids at their office as well as homes of their senior journalists and officials in February 2021. Both NewsClick and Newslaundry have been critical of policies and functioning of the Union Government.

“The dangerous trend of government agencies harassing and intimidating independent media must stop as it undermines our constitutional democracy. In July 2021, Income Tax raids were conducted at the offices of country’s leading newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, as well as a Lucknow based news channel, Bharat Samachar. These raids were conducted against the backdrop of some very critical coverage by both the news organisations on the government’s handling of the pandemic”, said EGI.

The guild asserted that great care and sensitivity be shown in all such investigations so as to not undermine the rights of journalists and media organisations. Further, to ensure that such investigations are conducted within the prescribed rules and that they don’t degenerate into instruments of harassment to intimidate independent media, stated the EGI statement issued by Seema Mustafa, President, Sanjay Kapoor, General Secretary and Anant Nath, Treasurer of EGI.

It was “raid in the guise of a ‘survey’: Foundation for Media Professionals

ON September 10, the offices of two independent news media organisations, Newslaundry and Newsclick, were subjected to what was euphemistically described as a “survey” by Income Tax authorities.

The Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) condemned this “raid in the guise of a “survey” during the course of which the personal mobile phone and laptop of Newslaundry co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri were seized and all their contents downloaded”.

FMP said that this is an evident breach of the confidentiality of journalistic sources. Source confidentiality is sacrosanct in journalism, and is a global cornerstone of the professional code of media ethics.

“The tax authorities, like the media, have a job to do that serves the public interest. In recent years, large sections of the media have unfortunately turned into lapdogs or attack dogs of particular politicians at a scale and in a manner not seen before. In similar vein, large sections of the government appear to have abdicated their responsibility to the Indian Constitution, choosing instead to seek personal gratification in the form of career benefits through loyalty to particular political leaders”, said FMP.

The foundation pointed out that it has become commonplace to see only media organisations critical of the government being subjected to police cases and visits by tax authorities, in the same manner that only opposition politicians get calls from the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation, with those cases often going cold the moment they switch to the “right” party.

“Tax payers’ money demands accountability, and this includes ensuring that government organisations running on taxpayer money are not misused for personal benefits by corrupt officials or politicians. It is our job as the free press to ensure this, and we are in solidarity with independent media organisations such as Newslaundry and Newsclick who are boldly doing their bit for upholding India’s democratic Constitutional values in difficult times” said a release issued by Samrat Choudhury, President of FMP.

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