The Income Tax department on Thursday conducted searches at the business and residential premises of media entrepreneur Raghav Bahl. The investigation is related to alleged evasion of long-term capital gains tax when Bahl sold his shares in a finance company a couple of years ago, tax department officials said.
A senior tax official said Bahl was being investigated for allegedly making “bogus” long-term capital gains in the scrip of a finance company around two years ago. Searches and surveys were also conducted at the premises of three other individuals, with no apparent links to Bahl, but on the same charge of “bogus gains” of long-term capital gains from offloading stake in the same finance company as Bahl, the official added.
There was no statement from the tax department on the searches.
In Bahl’s case, the searches and surveys were conducted at various locations in Delhi, Noida, Ghaziabad and Bengaluru. “Investigation teams of the Income Tax department also went to the premises of The News Minute in Bengaluru,” said the official.
Bahl is the founder of the Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd which runs The Quint website, and the Network18 group. Quintillion is also an investor in The News Minute, a news portal.
In a message to the Editor’s Guild, Bahl said he was in Mumbai this morning when I-T officials arrived at his residence and The Quint’s office. “I have a matter of great concern to share with the Guild. While I was in Mumbai this morning, dozens of I-T officials descended on my residence and The Quint’s office for a ‘survey’. We are a fully tax compliant entity, and will provide all access to all appropriate financial documents,” Bahl said in his statement to the Guild.
The Editors Guild expressed “concern” at the I-T searches. “While the tax administration is within its rights to make enquiries in compliance with the relevant laws, it should not exercise those powers in a way that could be seen as an intimidation of the government’s critic,” it said. “The Guild believes that motivated Income-Tax searches and surveys will seriously undermine media freedom and the government should desist from such attempts,” it said.