IT sleuths seized our phones, cloned data, claim Oxfam, IPSMF
Global non-profit organization Oxfam India and the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), which funds media firms, have said that Income Tax (IT) officials confiscated its team members' phones to clone and retrieve data during its "survey" two days ago. In a statement released on Friday, Oxfam India said the IT sleuths cloned their server and took away hundreds of pages of data.
Why does this story matter?
- IT officials carried out "surveys" at the offices of Oxfam India, IPSMF and Centre for Policy Research (CPR) starting Wednesday over alleged funding to political parties and foreign funding.
- Searches were conducted at over 100 locations in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, and Delhi.
- An official said that it was part of action "against some Registered Unrecognised Political Parties (RUPP)."
Survey went on non-stop for 35 hours
The survey at the Oxfam India office went on for 35 hours non-stop from Wednesday to early hours of Friday in which the private mobile phones of its senior team members were seized. The internet was shut down and its team members were not allowed to leave the premises, the organization said. Data related to finance and the organization's programs were taken away.
See Oxfam India's statement here
The Income Tax survey team took away hundreds of pages of data pertaining to finances and programs of Oxfam India. They also took all the data by cloning the Oxfam India server and the private mobile phones of the Senior leadership team and the Finance lead. +— Oxfam India (@OxfamIndia) September 9, 2022
'Compliant with all laws'
Oxfam India has said it is compliant with all the laws including IT Act and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA). The IPSMF claimed it has received no foreign funding at any stage. The CPR said it has all requisite approvals along with FCRA registration. The donors of CPR include the Australian High Commission, Ford Foundation, and the Institute of Development Studies, UK.
Hold ourselves to highest standards of compliance: CPR
Oxfam's application for review of MHA decision still pending
The FCRA registration of Oxfam India and 5,932 other NGOs had lapsed on December 31 last year. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sources said that 5,789 NGOs did not apply for renewal while applications of the rest were rejected. The MHA had rejected Oxfam India's renewal application. Oxfam India applied for a review of the MHA decision, which is still pending.
ECI delisted 87 RUPPs in May and 111 in June
In September 2021, there were a total of 2,796 RUPPs, which was a 300% increase since 2001. In May this year, the Election Commission of India (ECI) delisted 87 RUPPs and 111 RUPPs in June. It said around 199 RUPPs claimed IT exemptions of Rs. 445 crore in 2018-19, and 219 RUPPs claimed Rs. 608 crore exemption in 2019-20.