SC to hear I-T dept plea against quashing of black money case involving Chidambaram’s family

The Supreme Court Tuesday agreed to hear the Income Tax department’s appeal challenging the Madras High Court order which quashed criminal prosecution against senior Congress leader P Chidambaram’s family members under the black money law.

The top court, however, refused to stay the order of the high court.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to Chidambaram’s wife Nalini and their son Karti, who is contesting Lok Sabha election from Sivaganga constituency in Tamil Nadu.

The bench also sought reply from Karti’s wife Srinidhi and others in the case.

The high court had quashed criminal prosecution initiated by the I-T department under the Black Money Act against the three.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the I-T department, sought stay of the high court order of November 2, 2018 on various grounds including that it can be used by other accused to avoid criminal prosecution in cases related to black money.

To this, the bench said that granting stay at this stage without hearing the other side would amount to allowing the appeal of the I-T department.

The Solicitor general further said that if the stay is not granted then other high courts may quash the criminal prosecution against similarly placed accused under the black money law and urged that the November order of the high court should not be treated as a precedent.

The bench said that it will not be treated as a precedent as the high court would be cognizant of the fact that the apex court is seized of the matter and is scrutinizing the Madras High Court order.

The issue relates to alleged non-disclosure of overseas assets and bank accounts held by the trio.

According to the I-T Department, the three had not disclosed a property they jointly owned in Cambridge in the UK worth Rs 5.37 crore in their returns which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) Act and Imposition of Tax Act.

It also alleged that Karti did not disclose an overseas bank account he holds with Metro Bank in the UK and investments he had made in Nano Holdings LLC, USA.

He had also “failed” to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounted to committing an offence under the Black Money Act, the department had said in its complaint in the special court in May last year.

On the issue, Karti’s spokesperson said the I-T department had alleged that a house property was not disclosed in the I-T returns of Karti Chidambaram and his family members.

“The I-T department’s complaint was challenged in the Madras High Court. The High Court quashed the complaint as baseless and illegal,” he said, adding that Karti and others will appear in due course and contest the case.

Black money case: Court grants bail to K K Modi

Black money case: Court grants bail to K K Modi
Black money case: Court grants bail to K K Modi

Modi Group Chairman K K Modi was today granted bail by a Delhi court in a black money case filed by Income Tax Department which alleged he was attempting to evade tax by not disclosing money stashed in a Swiss bank.

The court gave the relief to 75-year-old Modi, a South Delhi resident, after he appeared before it in pursuance to summons issued against him in two alleged tax evasion cases.

He was granted bail on furnishing of a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of like amount.

The court also directed the industrialist not to leave the country without giving it prior intimation.

It had earlier taken cognisance of the departments complaint and summoned Modi as an accused, saying that “prima facie” offence was made out against him under the provisions of the I-T Act.

The complaint was filed for the alleged offences under sections 276C(1)(ii) (willful attempt to evade tax), 277 and 277(ii) (false statement in verification) of the I-T Act for the assessment years 2006-07 and 2007-08 with identical allegations against the accused.

The department alleged that Modi was holding an account with HSBC Bank in Geneva, which was opened on January 30, 2001.

It claimed a balance of over Rs 4.9 crore and over Rs 18.7 lakh was there in that account for the assessment years 2006-07 and 2007-08 respectively. The department further said that neither the foreign account, nor the balance was disclosed by the accused in his return of income.

It claimed a search was conducted at the premises of the accused in November 2011 and he was asked about his undisclosed foreign bank account. In his statement recorded on oath, he had denied having any account outside India but showed willingness to pay tax, it added.

The department alleged it had issued a notice to him in July 2013 calling for details of his foreign account with HSBC Bank but he willfully did not disclose it.

A penalty of Rs 10,000 was levied on Modi for non- compliance of the departments notice, it said.

It said the industrialist had filed an application seeking stay on his prosecution, which was dismissed by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal.

Seeking his prosecution, the complaint alleged that he had willfully attempted to evade tax by not disclosing the income in foreign bank account and made a false statement on verification.

( Source – PTI )

Supreme Court bench divided on black money probe

The Supreme Court’s two judges have disagreed today on whether a special committee should be established to supervise the government’s efforts to bring black money back to India.

The Supreme Court announced a divided decision today. This was regarding the maintainability of application of government which aimed to recall the Supreme Court’s order on establishment of an SIT (Special Investigation Team) to probe black money cases.

This decision was taken by Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice SS Nijjar on the Centre’s appeal to recall the Supreme Court’s July 4 decision.

Justice Nijjar refused to hear the application and said “it is not maintainable” but on the contrary Justice Kabir approved the Center’s appeal.

This divided decision has led the matter to the Chief Justice for constitution of an upper bench. The purpose of this bench is to take decision regarding the maintainability of the Centre’s plea.

The Supreme Court said that black money, stored in huge amount, exposes the level of “softness of the State.”


Supreme Court slams ED in black money case

The Supreme Court Wednesday slammed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for interrogating Hasan Ali, allegedly country’s top tax evader, only in 2011 when the case was registered against him in 2007.

The apex court bench of Justice B.Sudershan Reddy and Justice S.S. Nijjar said, “Case was registered in 2007 and custodial interrogation takes place in 2011. What is the speed? What is going on in this country?”

The observation came in the wake of Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium telling the court that there was no need for setting up Special Investigation Team (SIT) as sought by petitioner Ram Jethmalani.

The court’s indictment of the investigation by the ED came as it reserved its ruling on Jethmalini’s petition seeking a SIT to investigate money laundering by Indian citizens and their stashing away black money in the tax havens.

As Subramanium told the court that setting up of the SIT would not help the investigation but would torpedo the same, Justice Reddy said: “You started investigation only after persistent queries by the court.”

The solicitor general said the present investigation has made significant advances and all offences relating to money laundering were being investigated.

Justice Reddy asked what was the principal objection of the central government to the appointment of someone to monitor the investigation by the multi-disciplinary High Level Committee (HLC).

“There could be changes, addition or deletion, in the composition of HLC. What is the principal objection you have if someone is appointed to monitor the investigation?” Justice Reddy said.

Subramanium said the committee (obvious reference to multi-member monitoring) should be accountable. “We don’t want someone on the top who is not accountable.”

At this Justice Nijjar said, “The person who would be monitoring will give report to this court and we will do the scrutiny. You must take into account the anxiety of the court that the speed and efficiency of the investigation has to be maintained.”

As the solicitor general sought to dispute the figures of black money stashed away in tax havens, Justice Reddy said that the figures were given by the bench and the government has acknowledged it.

Court adjourns hearing on black money case

The Supreme Court Thursday did not hear the petition seeking a direction to the government to take steps for the recovery of black money stashed away in foreign banks in tax havens.

The case was listed for hearing by theSupreme court bench of Justices B. Sudarshan Reddy and S.S. Mijjar. It was adjourned as Justice Mijjar was on leave.

The court that is hearing the petition by eminent jurist Ram Jethmalani had in the last hearing asked the central government to file a comprehensive affidavit giving details on the money stashed abroad, the people involved and the steps taken by it to recover the same.