On the afternoon of September 7, 2022, officials with India’s Income Tax Department conducted a “survey” of the Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation, a philanthropic organization that provides financial support to independent digital news outlets in the country, at the foundation’s office in Bengaluru, the capital of the southern state of Karnataka, according to multiple news reports.
Such surveys examine a group’s balance sheets to search for irregularities, those reports said, noting that authorities had not disclosed a reason for the action. On the same day, tax authorities also conducted surveys at the offices of the Center for Policy Research think tank and Oxfam India, a charity organization, according to those news reports.
The Digipub News India Foundation, a trade body of Indian digital media organizations, said in a statement that the tax survey was part of an inquiry into alleged violations of regulations concerning foreign financial contributions. That statement condemned the raid on the IPSMF as an “assault on independent journalism.”
IPSMF has provided grants to privately owned online news outlets, including Alt News, Article14, The Caravan, Swarajya, and The Wire, according to those news reports.
Since 2018, tax authorities have also raided news outlets including Newslaundry, The Quint, and Newsclick, as CPJ has documented.
CPJ emailed the Indian Income Tax Department for comment but did not immediately receive any response.