Tamil NADU Health Minister rushes to HC, fearing burden of huge tax liability

Health Minister rushes to HC, fearing burden of huge tax liability

Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 18 DECEMBER 2019 01:44 ISTUPDATED: 18 DECEMBER 2019 01:44 IST

I-T department had charged Vijayabaskar with holding 20% share in Sekar Reddy’s SRS Mining
Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar has rushed to the Madras High Court, fearing that he may have to bear a huge tax liability on the basis of “unsubstantiated” charges of having been a 20% shareholder in SRS Mining, in which businessman J. Sekar Reddy was a managing partner, and having received kickbacks from illegal gutkha manufacturers.
The Minister has filed a writ petition urging the court to restrain the Income Tax Department from passing any assessment order with respect to the assessment years 2012-13 to 2018-19 until his representative is given an opportunity to cross examine all 12 witnesses, and he is allowed to defend himself effectively in the reassessment proceedings.
Income Tax sleuths had commenced the proceedings pursuant to raids conducted by them at the residence of Mr. Vijayabaskar Baskar and several other places in April 2017 when T.T.V. Dhinakaran, now the leader of AMMK, had contested as an AIADMK candidate in the R.K. Nagar bypoll. Recovery of several incriminating documents during the raids had forced the EC to rescind the bypoll notification. Subsequently, the I-T Department proceeded further under the Income Tax Act and issued notices to the Minister seeking an explanation with respect to income that had escaped assessment.
In reply, the Minister insisted on providing copies of all documents and materials relied upon by the I-T department. He wanted to cross examine 12 witnesses, including Mr. Reddy and Srinivasalu of SRS Mining, from whom they had reportedly obtained statements against the Minister. It was his claim that the witnesses had retracted those statements.
After several requests and follow up action, the department permitted cross examination of only five of the 12 witnesses between November 11 and 22 this year, Mr. Vijayabaskar Baskar said and insisted that it was absolutely necessary for him to examine the rest of the seven witnesses too before the assessments get time barred on December 31 this year.
The main prayer of the Minister in the writ petition, filed through his counsel Nithyaesh Natraj, was to issue a direction to a Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax to permit cross examination of the seven witnesses. He also insisted upon an interim injunction restraining the officials from passing any assessment order until the completion of cross examination.
When the case was listed for admission before Justice Anita Sumanth on Tuesday, the judge directed A.P. Srinivas, senior standing counsel for Income Tax department, to obtain necessary instructions from the department by Thursday.

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