Sahara Diary case closed Income tax department accepts it is not evidence hurriedly
Sahara diaries it is alleged that they speak about payoffs to over 100 politicians from more than 14 parties.
the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC) glossed over crucial evidence furnished by tax inspectors, documents related to the case show.
the ITSC accepted Sahara’s explanation that incriminating documents seized by IT officials during raids on the company’s premises in November 2014 were prepared fictitiously by one Sahara employee to ‘implicate and malign’ another who headed the Sahara group chairman’s office.
Indian Express reported that in what could be one of the quickest orders passed by the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC), Sahara India has been granted immunity from prosecution and penalty following raids conducted on November 2014 during which “diaries” listing alleged pay-offs to politicians were recovered.
The 50-page order, accessed by The Indian Express, shows that the ITSC had earlier rejected the application of the company and then on September 5, 2016 re-admitted it.
After just three hearings, a final order — granting immunity — was passed on November 10, 2016. This was just three days after the last hearing in the case on November 7, 2016.
The final page of the order states that only Rs 137.58 crore — which was seized during the raids will now be taxed, which too can be paid by the company in 12 instalments.
The order mentions names of the Sahara employees who it calls “authors” of the diaries but it does not mention the names of persons listed against alleged pay-offs who were purportedly questioned by the IT Department.
As per media reports normally ITSC never passes give any order before 10 or 12 months.
Order is passed only after 10 months rarely any order gets passed before 10 months.
Documents accessed by Common Cause – the citizen’s collective show that the IT department had objected to Sahara’s appeal at the ITSC and given extensive documents to show the company’s culpability in making illegal pay-offs to several public figures, which include the “CMs” of Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, from May 2013 to March 2014. Common Cause is currently pursuing the matter in the Supreme Court, through its counsel, Prashant Bhushan.
The IT department had produced three excel sheets dated 12.11. 2013, 22.02.14 and 04.03.2014 which show a cash receipt of over Rs 115 crore and cash outflow of Rs 113 crore. All the entries of cash paid to different persons in the three sheets tallied with each other in terms of date of payment, the recipient of the money, place of payment and ‘angadiyas’ or Hawala operators.
As corroborative evidence, IT officials also told the ITSC that the Enforcement Directorate and Financial Intelligence Unit under the Union ministry of finance had found suspicious cash transactions in as many as 4,574 bank accounts linked to Sahara. It further said that the company, on the basis of the same seized documents, had voluntarily surrendered income of Rs 1,217 crore and, therefore, there is no reason to accept Sahara’s claims.
The ITSC, however, relieved Sahara of the case, arguing that the IT department could not furnish adequate evidence to implicate the company in the bribery scandal.
Senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan told to The Wire following, “The documents are highly sensitive in nature. It was in the cause of public interest that the ITSC should not have resolved the matter so soon. Now, if the IT department, which itself is under the influence of the BJP-led union government, does not appeal at the court, Sahara will be in full right to claim the seized documents back. It is quite clear that it is in the interests of the implicated politicians to bury the matter,”
The documents that were seized during the raids are appear to have been signed by Ankita Pandey, deputy director, Income Tax (Investigation) and counter-signed by other government officials along with a representative from the Sahara India Group.
These documents bear an uncanny resemblance to the infamous Jain Hawala dairies that were found two decades ago. In 1996, these dairies, which came into the possession of the CBI, indicated those associated with businessperson Surinder Kumar Jain and his brother had made payments to a host of important political personalities such as L K Advani, Madhavarao Scindia, Balram Jakhar, V C Shukla, Madan Lal Khurana, P Shiv Shankar and Arif Mohammed Khan, among others. While a lower court had ordered the CBI to frame charges against these politicians, the higher courts ruled that the diary entries did not qualify as “admissible evidence.” The Supreme Court, however, ruled that whenever any record indicating illegal payments to public functionaries is recovered by any government agency, a thorough and independent investigation must be undertaken. Legally, the income tax department and the CBI, who have not conducted any investigations on the documents that were seized at the raids at the offices of the Sahara India Group and the AV Birla group of companies yet, have gone against the Supreme Court ruling.
the documents include the names of just about every important politician in India, cutting across party lines, often with figures written or typed next to them in Hindi and English, the records relating to the alleged payments made to Modi, Chouhan, Raman Singh, Dikshit and Shaina NC are distinct. In the case of these five individuals, specific dates, amounts and persons who apparently delivered the cash have been mentioned.
In the case of Shaina N C, the alleged payments total Rs 5 crore between 10 September 2013 and 28 January 2014. These payments were apparently made by one “Uday ji.” In a separate sheet, there is a somewhat cryptic entry stating that “help” was being sought from her to ask “A. General to withdrawal (close) Bombay case.”
The former chief minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit, allegedly received Rs one crore on 23 September 2013 from one “Jaiswal.”
The Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Chouhan allegedly received Rs 10 crore between 29 September 2013 and 1 October 2013 in two instalments from one “Neeraj Vashisht,” while his counterpart in Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, apparently received Rs 4 crore as a single one-off payment on 1 October from “Nand ji.”
The instances of alleged payments to “CM Gujrat” totalling Rs 15.1 crore were made between 30 October 2013 and 29 November 2013 in four instalments by one “Jaiswal ji.” Then, eight payments were allegedly made in Ahmedabad between 30 October 2013 and 22 February 2014 to “Ahmadabad Modi ji” by “Jaiswal ji” totalling Rs 35.1 crore and another apparent payment was made to “Ahmadabad Modi” on 28 January 2014 amounting to Rs 5 crore. Thus, the total alleged payments made to “CM Gujrat,” “Ahmadabad Modi ji” and “Ahmadabad Modi” add up to Rs 55.2 crore.
Photo Source – The Wire
Suggested Reading –
Did Modi receive over Rs 55 crore from the Sahara Group as the chief minister of Gujarat?
Sahara gets immunity, tax panel accepts its claim that seized papers not evidence
In Rush to Let Off Sahara, Tax Commission Ignored Evidence Matching Fund Flow to Alleged Payoffs
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Friday, January 6, 2017
Tags – Sahara Diaries Corruption Case PM CM