Pravda Media Foundation, the owner of Alt News has been served a notice by the office of the Registrar of Companies, Ahmedabad for violating the rules laid under the Companies Act, 2013. The Registrar received a complaint from a Chartered Accountant, named Shshank Saurav. After which, the notice was sent to the accused and others on 22nd June of 2022. The news about the same was shared via a tweet of the complainant dated 30th June 2022.
Though, Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Mukul Sinha are the founders (the Directors of Alt News), the notice was also sent to Nirjhari Sinha, who is Pratik Sinha’s mother, as she is the Managing Director. Along with, the complainant who also received a copy of the notice as per the legal procedures.
The accused are required to furnish the reply to the complaint attached with documentary proof within 15 days. Failure to comply with the same, shall attract appropriate action under sections 447/448/449 and/or the relevant contravened provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 against the company and its directors.
The tweet of the Complainant, who is a writer and usually participates in TV debates, read
“Prateek Sinha, Mohammed Zubair, and other directors of Alt News, run under the Pravda Media Foundation, have been issued notices by ROC Ahmedabad on charges of violation of several sections of the Companies Act, 2013. It is expected that proper facts will be presented on behalf of the Directors.” (Translation of Hindi to English)
In another tweet shared by him, he denied sharing any other details of the matter as it was still under investigation and if done so would impose penalty.
However, from the pictures of the Notice attached with the tweet, it is notable that the complaint of Mr. Shshank Saurav was forwarded by the office of DGCoA to the ROC. And the Directors along with, the Managing Director of Pravda Media have to submit comments/explanations on each point of allegations along with documentary proof to the ROC within 15 days from the date of receipt of this letter, failing which penal action as provided under sections 447/448/449 and/or the relevant contravened provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 shall be imposed.
It is pertinent to note that Mohammed Zubair, the co-founder of Alt News was arrested by Delhi Police on 28 June on grounds of passing derogatory social media posts targeting Hinduism. Following which, Sections 153A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code were instituted. The basis of FIR which was launched against him, was found to be a tweet by @balajikijaiin who requested Delhi Police to take necessary action against Zubair for Hurting Hindu Religious Sentiments by means of posting Derogatory comments on Lord Hanuman.
Soon after the arrest, the Donations received by Alt News came under the Spotlight. There were speculations that the foreign funds were collected without the FCRA Registration.
Pravda Media Foundation is a non-profit company, as it has been registered under section 8 of the Companies Act, 2013. Therefore, the shareholders can’t earn any dividend. And such donations can be used only for charitable purposes. Since they are exempted under section 80G, of Income Tax Act.