Income Tax department conducted what is being called a ‘survey’ at BBC’s Mumbai and Delhi offices on Tuesday, days after the release of the controversial documentary by the UK broadcaster on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 2002 Gujarat riots sparked a massive political row.
According to sources, the Income Tax survey at the BBC offices is on the basis of International Taxation and Transfer Pricing irregularities. Documents related to the business operations of the company and those related to its Indian arm are being surveyed.
In a tweet, BBC Press Team, said: “The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating. We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible."
The Income Tax Authorities are currently at the BBC offices in New Delhi and Mumbai and we are fully cooperating. We hope to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.
— BBC News Press Team (@BBCNewsPR) February 14, 2023
An internal ’emergency’ message circulated among the staff at BBC accessed by News18 asked the employees to not to go to office today and this week.
News18 has learnt that the employees have been asked not to use systems and have also been refrained from using their personal phones as well. Sources said that the survey is underway at multiple locations, reiterating that it is a survey, however, can be converted into a search in case evidence is found.
Opposition Goes All Out
Congress was quick to react to the news of the I-T survey at BBC offices and said termed it an “undeclared emergency".
पहले BBC की डॉक्यूमेंट्री आई, उसे बैन किया गया।अब BBC पर IT का छापा पड़ गया है।
— Congress (@INCIndia) February 14, 2023
A tweet by Congress’s official Twitter handle read, “First , BBC documentary was banned. Now IT raids on BBC. Undeclared emergency."
BJP IT cell chief told Amit Malviya, speaking to News18, said Opposition should find out reason behind the survey, adding that this is not the first time a raid or survey is being conducted on a media firm.
Trinamool Congress’s firebrand leader Mahua Moitra also took a jibe at the central government and said in a tweet, “Reports of Income Tax raid at BBC’s Delhi office. Wow, really? How unexpected."
Reports of Income Tax raid at BBC's Delhi officeWow, really? How unexpected.
Meanwhile farsaan seva for Adani when he drops in for a chat with Chairman @SEBI_India office.
— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) February 14, 2023
“Meanwhile farsaan seva for Adani when he drops in for a chat with Chairman
@SEBI_India office," Mahua Moitra’s tweet read.
Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, meanwhile, used a sanskrit proverb to describe the action by the I-T department. “Vinashkari viprit buddhi," Jairam Ramesh quipped.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti also reacted to the I-T department’s action and said in a tweet, “Cause & effect of raids on the BBC Office is quite obvious. GOI is brazenly hounding those who speak the truth. Be it opposition leaders, media, activists or anyone else for that matter."
The gloves are off & there is a price one pays for fighting for truth, her tweet further read.
Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yaday, also joined Opposition in slamming the government over the I-T action, and called it an “ideological emergency".
BBC पर छापे की ख़बर ‘वैचारिक आपातकाल’ की घोषणा है। @BBCIndia— Akhilesh Yadav (@yadavakhilesh) February 14, 2023
“The raid on BBC is declaration of an ideological emergency," Akhilesh Yadav said in a tweet in Hindi.
“BJP’s Gaurav Bhatia slammed Congress for siding with the UK broadcaster and said that BBC and Congress’s agenda is similar. He also called BBC Bhrasht Bakwaas Corporation.
If any company is working in india than they have to follow Indian rule of law. If they have done nothing wrong then they should not fear. If you see BBC than its had become world most corrupt corporation. BBC and Congress agenda is similar," Gaurav Bhatia said.
BBC’s history is black and full of anti-India agenda, Bhatia added.
Survey, Not Search/Raid, Says Income Tax Department:
Sources told News18 that the survey conducted on BBC premises in Delhi were in view of “BBC’s deliberate non-compliance with the Transfer Pricing Rules and its vast diversion of profits".
“It is pertinent to note that the above exercise conducted by the tax authorities, is called “survey” not search/raid as per the provisions of the Income Tax Act. Such surveys are routinely conducted and are not to be confused to be in the nature of a search/raid," the Income Tax department said.
In the case of the BBC, there has been persistent non-compliance with the abovementioned rules for years. As a result of the same, several notices have been issued to the BBC. However, the BBC has been continuously defiant and non-compliant and has significantly diverted their profits.
The key focus of these surveys is to look into manipulation of prices for unauthorised benefits, including tax advantages. These surveys have been undertaken due to BBC’s persistent non-compliance of the norms, making it a repeat offender.
In this case BBC has been:
a. non-compliant under transfer pricing rules;
b. persistent and deliberately violative of transfer pricing norms; and
c. deliberately diverted significant amount of the profits and have not followed the arm’s length arrangement in the case of allocation of profit
Accordingly, the surveys have been conducted with a view to investigate BBC’s violation of the Transfer Pricing Rules and its diversion of profits.
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