A team from the Income Tax department came to the registered office of Newslaundry at approximately 12:15 in the afternoon on the 10th of September and conducted a "survey" under section 133 A as per the document shown to me. They left the premises at around 12:40 am on the 11th of September. I was told I cannot speak to my lawyer and have to hand over my phone. The team consisting of six or seven people was courteous and professional. I was told the law requires me to comply without seeking legal advice. They searched and looked through all computer devices at the premises. My personal mobile phone, laptop and a couple of office machines were taken control of and all the data on them downloaded by the IT team. In my understanding this (taking all data from my personal laptop and mobile phone) violates my fundamental right to privacy. No signed hash value of the data copied was provided to me. Even so, we will deal with that later.
This is the second visit by an IT team to my office, the first being in June. We had cooperated with them then too. We have nothing to hide and have done everything by the book and are not in any breach or violation of any law. We conduct our business honestly and with integrity. We have in the past given the IT authorities all documents related to our funding and accounts. We will cooperate in whatever way we are required to by law. We will also continue to practice public interest journalism which is why we exist. Our support comes from people who value public interest news and choose to subscribe to Newslaundry, not through government or corporate advertisements or PR exercises. We are proud of the model we chose and championed.
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I am proud of my team and forever grateful to have such an amazing set of colleagues, some so young, who choose to do what they do in spite of the odds stacked against them – thank you all. We will persevere. We are clean because, you know, Newslaundry – sab ki dhulai.