Income tax department sends notice to Harsh Mander’s institute

Activist Harsh Mander claims that within days of clashing with RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha on a television debate, he has been slapped with an Income Tax notice.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2017 20:24 IST
Niha Masih
Niha Masih
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Harsh Mander,Activist,Income Tax Department
The Income Tax notice on Harsh Mander’s Centre for Equity Studies has ben described as part of “complete scrutiny” of the returns for financial year 2016-17. (HT File Photo)

Activist Harsh Mander has alleged that an income tax department notice to his institute Centre for Equity Studies is an attempt by the government to gag him.

The IT department had issued a notice to the Centre for Equity Studies on September 19 as part of “complete scrutiny” of the returns for financial year 2016-17 and asked for a reply by September 25.

The notice asks the institute to furnish ‘any evidence/information’ necessary in support of the IT return. It does not specify any violation in the return filed by them.

Speaking to HT, Mander said that the Centre had not defaulted and filed its returns on time and alleged that the IT notice was a strong arm tactic by the government to stifle him.

“This notice asks for a full-fledged inquiry. It seems suspect coming just after a public threat by Rakesh Sinha. This is the standard way to silence dissent.”

On September 14, during a television debate on the closure of case against Pehlu Khan’s killers, RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha had asked for a probe in the funding of Mander’s NGOs.

An official from the IT department said such notices were ‘routine’ and issued under computerized parameters. Less than one percent of all returns filed are issued scrutiny notices annually.

Read more: We won’t let you pay tribute to Pehlu Khan: Hindu groups confront activists in Rajasthan

This year the Union home ministry has issued notices to thousands of NGOs over foreign funding. The government has also warned them that licenses under FCRA (Foreign Contribution Regulation Act) would be cancelled if income tax and expenditure records were not filed.

Mander was recently in news for the Karwan-e-Mohabbat, a journey of peace and solidarity to areas and families of those killed in lynchings. As part of that exercise, he had paid his respects last week to Haryana dairy owner Pehlu Khan who was killed by alleged cow vigilantes in Alwar in April.

“I had anticipated some action when we began the Karwan. Even if they close down the centre, we will still keep speaking up,” Mander said.

The Centre for Equity Studies was established in 2000 by Mander, economist Jean Dreze, retired bureaucrat NC Saxena amongst others.

First Published: Sep 22, 2017 20:24 IST