By: Shubham Ghosh
India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday (22) said the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) or any other organisation cannot hide their “economic offences” under the garb of freedom of expression.
The broadcaster is under the Indian income-tax department’s probe for alleged tax avoidance by underreporting income and these are serious offences, BJP’s information technology department head Amit Malviya said.
The BBC has to abide by Indian laws to operate in the country, he said.
The BJP’s reaction came following the British government’s strong defence of the BBC and its editorial freedom in Parliament after the I-T department’s survey operations on the media corporation’s offices in New Delhi and Mumbai last week.
The BBC has said it is fully cooperating with the investigation and hopes to have the situation resolved as soon as possible.
Malviya claimed that the international broadcaster has a chequered past and accused it of trying to meddle in the internal affairs of democracies, including India.
He said that it once showed Russian tanks in Chechnya as Indian tanks in Kashmir to “suit its propaganda”.
Malviya said India is the “mother of democracy” and has a strong judicial system to ensure freedom of expression.
The I-T department had said in a statement following the survey that the income and profits disclosed by the organisation’s units were “not commensurate with the scale of operations in India”.
A foreign, Commonwealth and development office junior minister responded to an urgent question raised in the House of Commons in London on Tuesday (21) to say that the government cannot comment on the allegations made by the I-T department over an ongoing investigation but stressed that media freedom and freedom of speech are essential elements of robust democracies.