On February 14, the Income Tax Department conducted a survey of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) offices in Delhi and Mumbai. Weeks after the BBC released a two-part documentary called “India: the Modi Question” dealing with the 2002 riots, the move was made. The BBC declared that it is providing full cooperation with the relevant authorities and expressing a desire to have the situation rectified in the shortest time possible.
Government sources said that the key focus of the surveys was to look into “manipulation of prices for unauthorised benefits, including tax advantages”, adding that “these surveys have been undertaken due to BBC’s persistent non-compliance of the norms, making it a repeat offender.” Sources also said that the BBC has been “persistent and deliberately violative of transfer pricing norms; and deliberately diverted significant amount of the profits and have not followed the arm’s length arrangement in the allocation of profit.”
The British public broadcaster, based in the UK, declared that they were “fully cooperating” with the Indian IT department in response to their action and that they hoped the situation would be settled “as soon as possible”. Recently, the BBC made headlines with their highly debatable documentary series on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ‘India: The Modi Question’. This documentary follows Prime Minister Modi's time as Gujarat Chief Minister, focusing on the Gujarat riots of 2002. His leadership during the riots was also brought into question.
Following the broadcast of the documentary, a Hindu nationalist organization petitioned India's Supreme Court to prohibit the BBC from operating in the country. The Supreme Court declined to hear it. The BJP has accused the BBC of propagating “venomous” reporting against India and claimed that it is in league with the Congress's agenda.
Mahua Moitra, an MP of the TMC, sarcastically tweeted, “Reports of Income Tax raid at BBC's Delhi office… how surprising!” Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh used a Hindi idiom to attack the government, saying “Vinash Kaale, Vipreet Buddhi” (When doom approaches, a person's intellect works against his interest).
The Editors Guild of India expressed grave concern regarding the income tax surveys, referring to it as an ongoing practice of using governmental bodies to intimidate and persecute media outlets that are unfavorable to the current administration.
0. “‘BBC ignored IT notices; did not comply with Transfer Pricing Rules, diverted profits’: Sources” Firstpost, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.firstpost.com/india/bbc-ignored-it-notices-did-not-comply-with-transfer-pricing-rules-diverted-profits-sources-12153092.html
1. “I-T Department conducting ‘survey’ at BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai” The Hindu, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/i-t-department-conducting-verification-at-multiple-bbc-offices-agency-official/article66507550.ece
2. “BBC India Under Income Tax Scanner For Possible Violation Of Transfer Pricing Rules” Swarajya, 14 Feb. 2023, https://swarajyamag.com/politics/bbc-india-under-income-tax-scanner-for-violation-of-profits
3. “With love from govt: Synchronised tax surveys on BBC's Delhi, Mumbai offices” Rediff.com, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.rediff.com/news/report/income-tax-conducts-survey-at-bbc-office-in-india/20230214.htm
4. “Indian tax officials raid BBC’s New Delhi, Mumbai offices after it airs Modi program” POLITICO Europe, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.politico.eu/article/india-tax-officials-raid-bbc-new-delhi-mumbai-office-narendra-modi/
5. “IT raid at BBC’s Delhi office, employees’ phones seized” Business Today, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.businesstoday.in/latest/politics/story/breaking-it-raid-at-bbcs-delhi-office-employees-phones-seized-370152-2023-02-14
6. “Indian tax authorities raid BBC, weeks after it airs documentary critical of Modi” WBUR News, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.wbur.org/npr/1156726845/indian-tax-authorities-raid-bbc-weeks-after-it-airs-documentary-critical-of-modi
7. “IT survey at BBC: Opposition slams Centre's ‘intimidation tactics'” Onmanorama, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.onmanorama.com/news/india/2023/02/14/congress-bjp-reaction-to-bbc-office-it-survey-operation.html
8. “Income Tax Department Searches BBC Offices in Delhi and Mumbai” The Quint, 14 Feb. 2023, https://www.thequint.com/news/india/bbc-office-delhi-income-tax-search-pm-modi-documentary-row
9. “‘Intimidation': Media Bodies, BBC Veteran Satish Jacob Condemn I-T Dept's BBC ‘Surveys'” The Wire, 14 Feb. 2023, https://thewire.in/media/bbc-income-tax-survey-satish-jacob-editors-guild