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The Income Tax Department conducted surveys on Wednesday at the premises of think tank Centre for Policy Research (CPR), global non-profit organization Oxfam India, and the Independent and Public Spirited Media Foundation (IPSMF) that funds digital media entities. This action coincided with nationwide searches at over 100 locations in states such as Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Gujarat.

A senior official stated that the tax searches were part of an operation against certain registered unrecognized political parties. These searches are interconnected across states, with some having no relation to each other. The tax authorities are conducting searches at 100+ locations, with ongoing follow-up actions and investigations.

Tax officials suggested that the surveys may be related to alleged irregularities in funding. CPR is recognized as a not-for-profit society by the Government of India, receiving grants from various sources, including the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) and domestic and international entities.

Oxfam India, a member of the global confederation of 21 Oxfams, is registered as a non-profit organization under Section 8 of the Indian Companies Act, 2013. The FCRA registration of Oxfam India, along with 5,932 other NGOs, lapsed on December 31, 2021. IPSMF, a public charitable trust, funds media entities like Alt News, Swarajya, EPW, and The Wire.

The Income Tax Act authorizes officials to conduct search-and-seizure operations on the premises of the assessee, while surveys under Section 133A are limited to business premises. During surveys, officials review documents like books of accounts, bank accounts, and stock.

In May, the Election Commission of India deleted 87 Registered Unrecognized Political Parties for financial irregularities and non-compliance. By September 2021, there were 2796 RUPPs, with some claiming significant income tax exemptions without proper reporting.

The EC flagged serious financial improprieties and tax evasion by certain RUPPs, leading to their delisting and the enforcement of compliance measures. Sections 29A and 29C of the Representation of People Act, 1951, govern the registration and donation declaration requirements for political parties, with incentives for full income tax exemption.

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