Income Tax surveys at BBC offices end after over 58 hours


New Delhi: The Income Tax department’s marathon “surveys” at BBC’s offices ended on Thursday, after clocking over 58 hours in total, as officials prepared an inventory of financial data from select staffers and collected digital and paper data.

The operation that began at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) offices in Delhi and Mumbai around 11:30 am on Tuesday has ended in Mumbai and will be wound up at Delhi by tonight, sources said late on Thursday.

Tax authorities have made an inventory of the available stock, recorded the statement of some staffers and have impounded some documents as part of the survey action that continued for three days clocking about 57-58 hours, officials told PTI.

The survey was carried out to investigate issues related to international taxation and transfer pricing of BBC subsidiary companies, they had said.

The I-T teams, it is understood, sought answers on financial transactions, the company structure and other details about the news company, and copied data from electronic gadgets as part of their task of collecting the evidence.

Opposition parties have denounced the I-T department action against the London-headquartered public broadcaster, terming it “political vendetta”.

On Tuesday, the ruling BJP had accused the BBC of “venomous reporting” while the Opposition had questioned the timing of the action that came weeks after the broadcaster aired a two-part documentary “India: The Modi Question” on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the 2002 Gujarat riots.

While there has been no official statement from the Income Tax department on the action, the BBC has said it was cooperating with the authorities.

A BBC staffer in Delhi said they were broadcasting their news like usual and the company has informed them that it is cooperating with the authorities.

The Supreme Court last week dismissed a plea seeking the imposition of a complete ban on the BBC in India in the wake of the controversial documentary, terming the petition “entirely misconceived” and “absolutely meritless”.

Another set of petitions challenging the government’s decision to block the documentary’s access on social media platforms will be heard in April.

On January 21, the government had issued directions to block multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the documentary.

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( With inputs from )

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