Razorpay secretly shared donor data with cops: Alt News

News Network
July 6, 2022

New Delhi: Fact-checking website Alt News on Tuesday alleged that payment gateway Razorpay had shared its donor data with the police without informing it.

In a statement, Razorpay, without referring to the specific allegation of Alt News, said that it was mandated to comply with the written order from legal authorities under the provisions of the law.

Razorpay had deactivated the account of Alt News on its donation platform following a request from the police and re-enabled it later.

Alt News said the donation platform had conveyed to them that their account was reactivated "after getting some clarity".

"It has not been specified by them as to what this clarity is," the fact-checking website said.

It alleged that Razorpay had handed over Alt News donor data to the police.

"This was done without informing us, or without even a preliminary investigation of any violation on the part of Alt News," it said.

Delhi Police is probing the donations received by Alt News and has arrested its co-founder Mohammed Zubair.

Razorpay did not refer to the charges levelled by Alt News and said it was mandated to comply with the requirements of the law.

"We had received a written order from the legal authorities under Section 91 of the CrPC (Code of Criminal Procedure) and we are mandated to comply with the same as per the regulation under the provisions of Indian law," the fintech platform said.

"We will continue to hold the highest standard of data security, defend our customers at all times and also continue to abide by the laws and regulations of India," Razorpay said.

Alt News reiterated that only Indian bank accounts can make donations to it and foreign credit cards were never enabled in the Razorpay back-end.

"Therefore, the allegations of Alt News having received funds from foreign sources from whom we cannot receive donations are false," it said.

"While we look for alternatives, we will continue with Razorpay as the donation platform for now," Alt News said.


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News Network
February 1,2023


Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday announced major changes to the personal income tax structure in the country.

The major announcements are as follows:

1. Tax rebate limit increased to Rs 7 lakh from Rs 5 lakh in new tax regime.

2. Tax slabs have been reduced to five. Revised Tax slabs: Rs 0-3 lakh: 0 per cent; Rs 3-6 lakh: 5 per cent; Rs 6-9 lakh: 10 per cent; Rs 9-12 lakh: 15 per cent; Rs 12-15 lakh: 20 per cent; Rs 15+ lakh: 30 per ce

3. Extensionof the benefit of standard deduction under the new tax regime to the salaried class. Each salaried person with an income of Rs 15.5 lakh or more will thus stand to benefit by Rs 52,500.

4. Highest surcharge rate reduced from 37 per cent to 25 per cent in new tax regime. This would result in reduction of the maximum tax rate to 39 per cent, from 42.74 per cent earlier.

5. The Rs 3 lakh limit for tax exemption on leave encashment on retirement of non-government salaried employees was increased to Rs 25 lakh.

Sitharaman further announced that the new Income Tax regime would become the default tax regime in India.

She also announced the streamlining of the filing process for I-T returns, tax relief for cooperative societies, benefits for startups, among others.

More to follow...


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P A Hameed Padubidri
January 26,2023


India and Indian diaspora across the world are once again celebrating the Republic Day commemorating the date on which the Constitution of India, described as one of the largest constitutions in the world, came into effect. 

The real spirit and ethos of the India's independence became visible when the full-fledged constitution of India came into existence in January 26, 1950. 

India's capital-Delhi-takes vibrant colours with the display and reverberation of national flags and songs on each and every street and avenue, demo of military parade, exhibition of the Indian cultural vibes and various programs. 

We can describe this national day as an embodiment of Poorna Swaraj or the complete autonomy. It's a plaque of pride to rule and to be ruled by ourselves with our own laws and rules without any play of foreign rule, say the British reign. Also, it's described as the fervent vibes of a great deal of sacrifices done by our great personalities, who shed their blood & flesh for this great country as a one family. 

Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs and others had stood as a solid wall against the British Raj and as a result, now India stood out tall with its largest democracy & constitution in the world; that makes every Indian in India and  across the globe proud of their identity & stature. Fundamental, civil rights and human rights are securely guaranteed under the provisions of this Constitution. 

This national carnival makes a special stint for the Indian diaspora living in the different parts of the world especially for those who are residing in the gulf countries and MENA regions. This makes them to stand in all the pomp and pride & to share the good message to their host countries' citizens. 

Indian Embassies, Missions & High Commissioners in their respective host countries celebrate this Republic Day by hoisting the Indian flags on the top of the roofs and by organizing various events. Interestingly, this year's Republic Day came as coincidental with the diamond jubilee year of the India's independence, which is termed as "AZADI KA AMRIT MAHOTSAV" as well as the initiation of the Indo-Saudi diplomatic relations. This brings all the pomps & prides among the NRIs especially residing in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. That too with the posting of new Ambassador,  to the KSA, Dr. Suhel Aijaz Khan, after the gap of around 9 months. 

Besides, this year's Republic Day celebrations coincides with the year of India's taking on the prestigious Presidency of G20. The tangs of all these co-incidents makes this Republic Day more meaningful and historical. 

ONE EARTH, ONE FAMILY & ONE FUTURE is the catchphrase of G20 that makes this day fervent & more spirited. 


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News Network
January 31,2023


The PM CARES Fund is not a government fund as donations to it do not go to the Consolidated Fund of India and no third party information can be parted with irrespective of its status under the Constitution and the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Delhi High Court was informed on Tuesday.

An affidavit filed by an under secretary at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), who is discharging his functions in the PM Cares Trust on honorary basis, has said the trust functions with transparency and its funds are audited by an auditor -- a chartered accountant drawn from the panel prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

It contended that irrespective of the status of Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) under the Constitution and the RTI Act, it is not permissible to disclose third party information.

The affidavit was filed in response to a petition seeking a direction to declare the PM CARES Fund a 'State' under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning.

The same petitioner has also filed another petition to declare PM CARES as a "public authority" under the RTI Act, which is being heard together with this plea.

A bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad heard the arguments advanced on behalf of petitioner Samyak Gangwal and asked the office of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to inform the court about his availability to argue the case.

The affidavit filed by Pradeep Kumar Srivastava, Under Secretary at the PMO, said the prayers made in the present petition are not maintainable as PM CARES does not constitute a "public authority" under the provisions of RTI Act.

“I reiterate and submit that the PM CARES Fund has been set up as a Public Charitable Trust. This Trust is not created by or under the Constitution of India or by any law made by the Parliament or by any State Legislature.

“This Trust is neither intended to be or is in fact owned, controlled or substantially financed by any government nor any instrumentality of the government. There is no control of either the Central government or any state government/s, either direct or indirect, in functioning of the Trust in any manner whatsoever,” the official said.

The affidavit added that the composition of the Board of Trustees consisting of holders of 'Public Office ex-Officio' is merely for administrative convenience and for smooth succession to the Trusteeship.

It said PM CARES is not a “public authority” within the meaning of Section 2(h)(d) of the RTI Act and as such provisions of the Act cannot be made applicable on the trust and added that on this preliminary issue the petition deserves to be dismissed.

“The PM CARES accepts only voluntary donations by individuals and institutions. Contributions flowing out of budgetary sources of government or from the balance sheets of the public sector undertakings are not accepted. Conditional contributions, where the donor specifically mentions that the amount is meant for a particular purpose, are not accepted in the Fund,” it said.

The affidavit further said that the cause for which PM CARES Fund was created and exists is purely charitable and neither the funds of this trust are used for the government projects nor is the trust governed by any of the government policies, so it cannot be labelled as "public authority".

It said PM CARES does not get any budgetary support from the Consolidated Fund of India and the assumptions of the petitioner regarding arbitrariness or non-transparency are devoid of merit.

“The benefit of the objects of the Trust have been made available to the general public irrespective of caste, creed, sex, region, language and religion. Moreover, Trust Deed of the PM CARES Fund along with grants sanctioned from the fund are available in public domain on the website pmcares.gov.in. Audit reports of the PM CARES Fund are already available on the website…,” it said.

The affidavit also raised objection over locus standi of the petitioner to file the petition and said he has taken upon himself to espouse a cause which is intended to be created in a manner which ex-facie is guided by an ulterior motive to find his place in the public eye.

“The present case is a classic case of a busy body attempting to gain publicity under the garb of public interest litigation,” it said, adding that the plea was preferred with oblique motives and it be dismissed with exemplary costs.

It also said that the petition has attracted a lot of traction in the media houses via online reporting and through other means, which seems to be the end goal of the petition, that is, to agitate a publicity interest litigation in the garb of public interest litigation.

“It will not be out of place to state that the petitioner being proxy is a means for unscrupulous hands to further their personal causes,” the affidavit said.

It further said that the petition has been preferred in vacuum, by way of clever drafting, attempts to espouse and agitate a cause of “certain groups with vested interest for extraneous reasons”.

“I state that when the petitioner is claiming to be a public-spirited person and seeking to pray for various reliefs only for transparency, it does not matter whether PM CARES is a ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India,” the officer said in the affidavit.

It said that all donations received by the trust are received via online payments, cheques or demand drafts and the amount received is audited with the audited report and the expenditure of the trust fund displayed on the website.

“The Trust functions on the principles of transparency and public good in larger public interest like any other charitable trust and, therefore, cannot have any objection in uploading all its resolutions on its website to ensure transparency,” it said, while reiterating that “the trust’s fund is not a fund of Government of India and the amount does not go in the Consolidated Fund of India.”

The officer said he is discharging his functions in the PM CARES Trust on an honorary basis which is a charitable trust not created by or under the Constitution or by any law made by the Parliament or by any state legislature.

In his plea, petitioner Gangwal has said that the PM CARES Fund is a 'State' as it was formed by the prime minister on March 27, 2020 to extend assistance to the citizens of India in the wake of the public health emergency -- the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

His counsel told the court that if it is found that the PM CARES Fund is not 'State' under the Constitution, usage of the domain name 'gov', the prime minister's photograph, state emblem, etc has to be stopped.

The petition said that the trustees of the fund are the prime minister, defence minister, home minister and finance minister and immediately after the formation of the fund, the Centre through its high government functionaries represented that the fund was set up and operated by the Government of India.

To ensure transparency and accountability, the plea has sought a direction for periodic auditing of PM CARES website and disclosure of the details of donations received by it.

In his alterative prayers, Gangwal has sought to direct the Centre to publicise that the PM CARES Fund is not a fund of the Government of India and to restrain PM CARES from using 'Prime Minister of India' or 'Prime Minister', including its abbreviations and name, on its website, Trust Deed and other official or unofficial communications and advertisements.

The petition challenges a June 2, 2020 order of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), PMO, refusing to provide documents sought by him on the ground that PM CARES Fund is not a public authority under the RTI Act.


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