IT raids on 50 locations to unearth bogus political donations

Tax authorities have also raided think-tank Centre for Policy Research and Media Foundation that part funds alternative media outlets.

Income Tax Return
Income Tax Return

The Income Tax (IT) Department on Wednesday conducted raids at over 50 locations across seven states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to unearth bogus donations and tax fraud by various political parties.

In an unrelated development, IT officials also raided the office premises of the Delhi-based think-tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR), charity organisation Oxfam India and the Bengaluru-based Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF), which part funds a number of alternative media outlets in the country.

The political parties under the IT scanner are involved in serious financial impropriety by receiving donations without due statutory compliances, according to sources. The Election Commission of India in May this year took action against such political parties which had claimed IT exemption without complying with statutory requirements. The Election Commission had deleted 87 political parties from its list for bogus donation and tax fraud and violating norms.

Sources further said that the IT team raided the residence of Rashtriya Krantikari Samajwadi Party chief Gopal Rai in Lucknow, who runs several NGOs.

Meanwhile, IT officials also raided the office premises of the Centre for Policy Research (CPR) on the basis of “credible information” about tax evasion by the Delhi-based top policy think-tank. The CPR is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan research institution, which is known for conducting research on a variety of issues related to governance and public policy.

A member in stitution of the Think Tank Initiative (TTI), a programme of the Canada-based International Development Research Centre, the CPR receives grants from a variety of domestic and international sources, including foundations, corporate philanthropy, governments and multilateral agencies.

The think-tank also receives grants from the Indian Council for Social Science Research and is recognised by the Department of Science and Technology.

Oxfam raided by the IT officials is an umbrella organisation of non-profit global agencies, supporting non-government interventions in child education, women empowerment and inequality.

IPSMF, on the other hand, funds a number of alternative media outlets in the country, many of which are known for publishing investigative stories. The foundation to support journalism was started by noted journalist TS Ninan. Among its donors are the likes of Azim Premji, Adi Godrej and Nandan Nilekani.