RazorPay, the payment gateway used by Alt News to receive donations, on Friday said only domestic payments were enabled for the fact-checking website and foreign transactions were not allowed without FCRA approval.
Delhi Police last week told a Delhi court that they were probing Alt News’ alleged violations of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) in its probe against co-founder Mohammad Zubair.
In a statement posted on his Twitter handle, RazorPay co-founder and CEO Harshil Mathur said the payment gateway had shared “only specific data” under investigation with the investigating authorities.
“While I am not allowed to share specifics due to the ongoing investigation, I would like to point out that the business concerned was only able to receive domestic payments as per our policy, allowing international transactions without FCRA approval for donation pages. Not to give,” he said without directly naming Alt News.
Amid concerns over the data shared by Razorpay, he said the specific scope of the request of the investigating agencies was only to determine whether there were any foreign donations.
“And hence the PAN, address, pin code etc. of the donors were not shared, which we feel were beyond the scope of investigation,” he said.
Alt News’ investigation into the payments follows Mr Zubair’s arrest over a complaint from a Twitter account that said he had insulted Hindus in 2018 when he posted a picture of an old Hindi film.
When Alt News said that he was not contacted before sharing the information, Mr Mathur said Razorpay had contacted the registered mobile numbers of the business but could not reach them.
“Ultimately, we understand that in such a situation it may have been difficult for them to talk on the phone and we could have tried to find other channels,” he added.
Giving details, he said the firm received a written notice on Monday for transaction data for a specific time period.
“We immediately reached out to the authorities to understand the scope and reasons for the request. A senior Razorpay leader went from Bengaluru to Delhi to talk to the authorities,” he said. “As is our process, we have consulted with a number of legal experts on this and are of the unanimous view that we must comply with the request.”
He said Razorpay has temporarily disabled Alt News’ business account, awaiting clarity on the purpose of the investigation to prevent and protect consumer losses.
“As soon as we got that clarity, we immediately re-enabled payments for them.” He also said that policy experts and legal advisors across the country have given an undivided view that it was necessary for Razorpay to comply with the legal request.