'Truth spoken without moderation reverses itself'
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Friday, January 6, 2017
AJOY ASHIRWAD MAHAPRASHASTA - In Rush to Let Off Sahara, Tax Commission Ignored Evidence Matching Fund Flow to Alleged Payoffs / Months Before Sahara Was Granted Immunity, Tax Panel Member Was Abruptly Transferred
In absolving the
Sahara group of any wrongdoing under the Income Tax Act in the alleged bribery
scandal which has implicated several prominent politicians and unleashed a
political storm in the country, the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC)
glossed over crucial evidence furnished by tax inspectors, documents related to
the case show. On Thursday, the Indian
Expressreported that that the group was
granted immunity after just three hearings at the ITSC on November 10, 2016.
In what was an
unprecedented and exceptionally hurried hearing, 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
“the ITSC has
concurred with Sahara’s claim that the “evidentiary value” of the “loose
sheets” recovered during the raids “could not be proved” by the Income Tax
Department,” the Indian Express reported.
What it did not report
was the manner in which the commission brushed aside key arguments made by the
IT investigators that rendered improbable the “disgruntled employee” theory
that Sahara put forward. Rarely has a matter of
such significance been resolved at the ITSC in less than 10 months. The
commission, which is usually given around 18 months to settle a dispute,
ruled that the Rs 137.58 crore recovered during the raids on Sahara
group offices will be taxed in 12 instalments but let the company off the hook
without any further liabilities.
IT documents: Documents accessed by Common
Cause – the citizen’s collective founded by the late H.D. Shourie
– 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.
These documents are
bundled along with the additional affidavit that Common Cause filed today –
January 5, 2017 – in its petition against the appointment of the central
vigilance commissioner (CVC) and the vigilance commissioner, which is currently
pending in the Supreme Court. The top court had directed the petitioners to
furnish more evidence in the matter.
The documents show
that the sheets were recovered from one Sachin Pawar of Sahara’s marketing
communications (MARCOM). Pawar, in his deposition at the ITSC, had claimed that
he had fabricated the sheets to malign his colleague V S Dogra to get him
punished by the management.
However, the IT officials
refuted his claim. The officials said that Pawar, who worked with MARCOM, made
two claims which were contradictory in nature… read more: