The Income Tax department in India has recently conducted surveys at BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai over allegations of international taxation and transfer pricing irregularities. This move by the government has received criticism from opposition leaders, who believe it is a result of the British broadcaster’s recent documentary on the 2002 post-Godhra riots.
The controversial documentary, titled “India: The Modi Question,” delved into the role of the Gujarat government under then-Chief Minister Narendra Modi during the riots. It was initially released only in the UK through the BBC’s streaming service, but soon became widely available on social media platforms.
On January 21, the Indian government issued an order to block the documentary using emergency powers under Rule 16 of IT Rules 2021, and even directed YouTube and Twitter to stop sharing it. However, the second part of the documentary, which looked at the Modi government’s performance after his re-election in 2019, was reportedly not subject to any blocking order.
Since the release of the documentary, various groups have organized screenings of it across the country, including at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University of Hyderabad campus, and Thiruvananthapuram’s Shanghumugham beach. The Supreme Court also issued a notice to the government on several petitions against the ban, and later dismissed a petition seeking a complete ban on BBC in India over the documentary.
The recent surveys conducted by Income Tax officials at the BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai are unrelated to the documentary ban and are based on allegations of international taxation and transfer pricing irregularities. Nevertheless, the move has drawn criticism from opposition leaders who see it as an attempt to silence the broadcaster.
Edited by: Jaydev Published On: Feb 14, 2023