The Income-Tax Department on February 14th carried out surveys on the premises of British Broadcasting Corporation office in Delhi and Mumbai. No, not because of the documentary, it’s supposedly due to tax evasion.
The Income-Tax Department on February 14th carried out surveys on the premises of British Broadcasting Corporation office in Delhi and Mumbai. No, not because of the documentary, it’s supposedly due to tax evasion. BBC is accused of deliberate non-compliance with the international tax obligations, transfer pricing rules and its diversion of profits.
Even though the I-T Department is completely within its rights to conduct surveys and even searches if prima facie evidence hints at violation of tax laws, several foreign media and Opposition parties in India including the Congress seem rattled and have come out in support of the BBC.
Months before the Feb 14 survey which continued for almost two days, the BBC was served notices by the I-T authorities on several occasions. But, it is being said that BBC always remained defiant and non-compliant. Does it indicate that the Corporation was taking the I-T department for granted?
What are the charges against BBC? As per reports, BBC is accused of tax evasion, transfer price breach, tax laws flouting, global tax irregularities among others. BBC said it is cooperating with the authorities and hopes situation gets resolved as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, soon after the IT survey, some self-proclaimed guardians and defenders of democracy raised their voices citing it a vengeance of Central government against the BBC over its anti-Modi documentary. But do they know that the same BBC in its home country, UK, is accused of multi-million-dollar tax evasion? Also, this is not the first time that BBC has been at loggerheads with the Indian Government.
In the year 1970, BBC had broadcast documentary series of French director Louis Malle, which had caused massive outrage. BBC was accused of showing India in negative light, and immediately the Corporation was banned by Indira Gandhi government. BBC’s office in Delhi was also closed for two years. The BBC was again expelled in 1975 during Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. BBC once again found itself in trouble for broadcasting a documentary featuring Delhi gang rape convict Mukesh Singh. In March 2015, the Delhi High Court upheld the ban on broadcast of the documentary and also prohibited its internet broadcast. Even after this, BBC allegedly continued with its anti-India approach to malign the country’s image. Again in 2017, the BBC was prohibited from filming in India's national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The Indian government had claimed that the BBC poaching broadcast had caused ‘irreparable damage’ to the country’s image.
Be it the BBC India or the National Herald or any other media organisation, no institution is above the law. And, if you are in India, you must abide by the law of the land. Opposition to the IT department’s surveys is seen by people as no less than a vendetta politics of a few parties that are now finding it hard to make their presence felt in the new, developed and informed India.