Delhi HC seeks response of Centre, Income Tax dept on Robert Vadra plea

The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Centre and the Income Tax Department on a plea filed by businessman Robert Vadra, challenging the showcause notice issued to him by the ‘Principal Commissioner of Income Tax’ under Section 10(1) of the Black Money Act 2015.

A two-Judge Bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh has issued notice to the Centre, Central Board of Direct Taxes, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Principal Commissioner of Income Tax, and Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax and sought their response by August 10, 2021.

“In the meanwhile, while the assessment proceedings may continue, however, no final order will be passed,” said the Delhi High Court.

The plea has been filed by businessman Robert Vadra. The petitioner’s family is closely associated with the principal opposition party i.e. the Indian National Congress and while the petitioner himself has never held any political post or office, his family members do not hold such posts. The petitioner’s wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is currently General Secretary of the Indian National Congress,” stated in the plea.

During the hearing his Counsel Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi submitted that under Black Money Act, sets of documents being used against his client not supplied by the respondents and after sleeping and not doing anything till 2020, they served another show cause notice.

Singhvi further mentioned about the documents found in Sanjay bhandari’s so called search, 18 E-mails were found out of which 9 were given on 17th May, after current round of proceedings, On the basis of Manoj Arora statement.

Singhvi, emphasized on “the important dates starting on 14-12-18, From February 19 till December 19 2020. No notice or no Show cause notice, and after sleeping till mid of 2020 and Extention of time due to covid and CBDT (central board of direct taxes), and after 24 months within 5 days they responded back.”

The petitioner was referring to the Show cause notice issued by the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax on 07/05/2021, which was issued once again by placing reliance on the material recovered during the Income Tax raid on Sanjay Bhandari to allege that Robert Vadra is the beneficial owner of the property in London worth 1.9 million Great British Pound (GBP). To which the petitioner replied that due to the lock down and closure of his office he cannot reply and the matter be kept in abeyance. He also requested some documents on which the department relied upon in order to make a reply on the basis of said documents. On 17 May he got the reply from Commissioner who refused to give those documents and also refused to keep the proceedings in abeyance and set the final deadline of 2:00PM on 20/5/2021 for a reply.

To which, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, counsel appearing on behalf of the Union of India, responded that it can be argued after the final assessment is done, 31st May is the last day, if my friend says he’ll not raise the point of time.

Singhvi, argued that Mr Mehta on my reply took no notice for 24 months,

-I assure there will be no issue on limited point.( he also assured the opposing counsel Mr Mehta there will be no issue on limited point)

While putting forward one of the observations, Singhvi added the condition precedent

Section 45(5) of IT Act, for holding the petitioner beneficiary, twin test is required, a consideration is necessary. Singhvi finally submitted that we are not asking anything beyond reasonableness.

The Delhi High Court noted, “that the present writ petition has challenged the communication dated 17.05.2021, issued by the Respondent 3 (Principal Commissioner of Income Tax). Beside that there are other prayers against the notices dated 04.12.2018 & 18.12.2019 issued by the Respondent No 3, under Section 10(1) of the Black Money Act (Undisclosed Foreign Income & Assets) and imposition of Tax Act, 2015. And there is a challenge is also laid to show cause notice dated 07.05.2021. In addition, thereto, certain declaratory reliefs have also been sought in the writ petition.”

The Court has further noted the grievance of the petitioners counsel Mr Singhvi that he need more time to file a response to the show cause notice dated 07.05.2021 and the communication dated 17.05.2021, issued to him.

“Both Mr Tushar Mehta SG and Mr Balbir Singh ASG, says that they would have no difficulty if this court were to allow the petitioner further time to file a response to the said notice and communication,” noted the Court.

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Following which the Delhi High Court has granted three more weeks to the petitioner to reply to the said show cause notice and communication.

“In the meanwhile, while the assessment proceedings may continue, however, no final order will be passed,” said the Delhi High Court.

Source ILNS