'Wasn't allowed access to lawyer': Newslaundry co-founder on I-T survey
Abhinandan Sekhri, the co-founder of online media portal Newslaundry, said Income Tax Department officers spent more than 12 hours at his company's office. He issued a statement this morning, saying he was not allowed to speak to his lawyer during the operation. I-T Department officials visited the offices of Newslaundry and another portal NewsClick on Friday. Here are more details.
Data from personal devices was downloaded, Sekhri alleges
"I was told I cannot speak to my lawyer and have to hand over my phone...I was told the law requires me to comply without seeking legal advice," Sekhri tweeted. He said that besides the devices at the office, data from his personal mobile phone and laptop was also downloaded by officials. He alleged that action violated his fundamental right to privacy.
'We have nothing to hide'
"We have nothing to hide and have done everything by the book and are not in breach or violation of any law," Sekhri said. He disclosed it was the second visit by an I-T team to his office, the first being in June. "We conduct our business honestly and with integrity...We will also continue to practice public interest journalism which is why we exist."
You can read Sekhri's full statement here
I-T officials conducted 'surveys' at Newslaundry, NewsClick offices
I-T Department officials conducted surveys at the offices of Newslaundry and NewsClick, which has not issued a statement yet. In a survey, financial records and inventories can be examined but not confiscated. Mobile phones of employees at both the companies were seized and switched off during the operation, they said. Some of the employees were allowed to leave the Newslaundry office around 3 pm.
In February, NewsClick was raided by ED
The action against NewsClick came months after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided its office and editors based on money laundering allegations. Authorities alleged the company received Rs. 9.59 crore in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) by fraudulent means. The Delhi High Court had, in July, granted interim protection from coercive action to the company and its Editor-in-Chief Prabir Purkayastha till September 2.