New Delhi, July 28: India’s reputed TV news channel NDTV on Thursday received a letter from the Income Tax Department asking the channel to “immediately now” pay Rs 429 crore. “A demand for immediate payment without any notice period is unheard of and smacks of sinister motives by the IT Department,” said NDTV in a statement and termed the notice illegal for various reasons.
“The IT Department action is blatantly unlawful for several reasons: 1) The IT department has not even completed the assessment of NDTV as directed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). 2) The ITAT had told the IT Department to make a fresh assessment on no less than four issues. These instructions have been flat-out ignored by the IT Department in rushing its tax demand to NDTV. 3) It is unknown in law to make this sort of “partial tax demand” without completing the entire tax assessment. 4) Income Tax law only recognises one assessment order – and the IT Department must complete the assessment including the four new factors raised by the ITAT,” said the channel.
The NDTV said it is facing concerted attack from various agencies.
“The attempt to intimidate and paralyze NDTV has expanded to epic proportions in the last 24 hours. There are new attacks from the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate (scroll down for details). In short, there is a concerted and orchestrated 3-pronged attack on NDTV by the: 1) CBI, 2) Enforcement Directorate and 3) Income Tax Department.”
“All three agencies are attacking NDTV over one transaction in which GE, USA, made a $150 million investment in NDTV – a perfectly legitimate and publicly, officially declared investment – which they are calling a “sham transaction”, it said.
“India – and the world – is watching this witch hunt against independent media. It will irreversibly hurt India’s reputation as a democracy with a flourishing and free press,” it said.
The channel announced: “NDTV will not take such arbitrary and illegal action lying down and will take appropriate action in the matter.”
Referring to the IT Department letter asking it to pay Rs 429 crore “immediately now”, the channel said: “The new urgency reflects instructions to punish NDTV and to issue a warning to the media at large of the consequences of balanced journalism.”
“The government is making clear the implications of fearless journalism. Despite the illegal and massive pressure, NDTV will not allow its coverage to be affected by these shameful tactics,” it said.