Highlights

  • Oxfam India, IPSMF allege their server, private mobile phones were cloned by IT dept during 'survey'
  • They allege that cloning was done to retrieve data
  • On Sept 7, IT dept conducted 'surveys' on Oxfam India, IPSMF, CPR premises

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I-T 'survey' team cloned server, phones to get data: Oxfam India, IPSMF

In December 2021, the renewal of the FCRA licence of Oxfam India was denied by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Two days after the Income-Tax (I-T) department officials conducted ‘surveys’ on Oxfam India and the Independent Public-Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) premises on suspicion of financial irregularities, both organisations alleged that the IT sleuths cloned their server and private mobile phones of the senior leaders to retrieve data.

The Income-Tax Department on September 7 conducted 'surveys' on two think tanks -Oxfam India, Centre for Policy Research (CPR) and a charity organisation - IPSMF on suspicion of irregularities related to financial transactions.

“The Income Tax (IT) department officials conducted an Income Tax 'survey' at the Oxfam India Delhi office from the 7th September 2022 noon to early hours of 9th September. During these 35-plus hours of non-stop survey, the Oxfam India team members were not allowed to leave the premises; the internet was shut down and all the mobile phones were confiscated,” Oxfam India said in a statement.

“The Income Tax survey team took away hundreds of pages of data pertaining to finances and programs of Oxfam India. They also took all the data by cloning the Oxfam India server and the private mobile phones of the Senior leadership team and the Finance lead,” it added.

It said that while the team conducting the survey was polite and professional, the process of a survey with such sweeping powers and broad ambit resulted in disappointing Oxfam India.

It asserted that the organisation is compliant with Indian laws and has filed all its statutory compliances, including Income tax and Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) returns, in a timely manner since its inception.

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Stating that past eight months have been distressing for Oxfam India, the company pointed out that in December 2021, the renewal of FCRA licence was denied by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

“Despite this, Oxfam India was conducting one of the largest civil society responses to the Covid crisis across 16 states in India. Oxfam India has provided lifesaving medical and diagnostic equipment to 150 District Hospitals, 172 Primary Health Centres, and 166 Community Health Centres in 16 states. 10 oxygen plants have also been set up and made operational across the country,” it said.

“The IT survey and MHA’s refusal to renew Oxfam India’s FCRA registration will not reduce our commitment to serve the vulnerable communities in country and uphold values enshrined in the Indian Constitution,” it added.

Meanwhile, TN Ninan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the IPSMF, said in a statement, "A team of income tax officials came for a 'survey' to the Bengaluru office of the Foundation on Wednesday, September 7. They stayed till 4.30 this morning, going through the papers and records of the Foundation and asking questions. The Foundation’s staff were cooperative and answered all questions put to them on a wide range of matters. The officials took statements from three senior staff members."

“All laptops and mobile phones were taken for cloning data in them and returned last night (September 8)," he said.

"The Foundation believes that its affairs are entirely in order. Some media reporting on the I-T survey has linked it to foreign funding and the funding of political parties. We wish to make it clear that the Foundation has received no foreign funds at any stage, and has funded only media entities. The Foundation believes in its mission of supporting independent and public-spirited media, and intends to continue its work," the statement added.

The Centre for Policy Research (CPR), also subjected to the 'survey', had already put out a statement on Friday which read, "We hold ourselves to the highest standards of compliance and are confident that we have done nothing wrong."

"We are committed to working with the authorities to address any questions they might have," CPR President and Chief Executive Yamini Aiyar had said.

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