A driver in Rajasthan’s Jodhpur was shocked when an income-tax notice asked him to explain Rs 20 crore worth of transactions in his bank account over the last one year.
Narpat Lal, alias Naresh Joshi, was also asked to explain a deposit of Rs 49 lakh. It was this deposit made three days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced scrapping of 500 and 1,000-rupee banknotes that caught the attentions of tax authorities, who are closely examining all suspicious high-value transactions done after the November 8 demonetisation announcement.
A worried Joshi, whose earns around Rs 10,000 every month, went to police on April 12 and lodged a complaint of fraud and cheating against a Jodhpur-based diamond dealer who was his employer for a year.
“I have been a driver for last 20 years but none of my employers except Aditya Lodha took photocopies of my identity documents and PAN card. I am sure he used these to open a bank account in my name,” Joshi told HT over phone from Jodhpur on Friday.
Joshi, who worked as Lodha’s driver and office boy in 2012-13, said he got to know about the account when he received the notice in February.
He went to tax authorities who said they were looking into the complaint but when nothing came of it, he turned to police.
“I went to the police commissioner’s office and told him about the fraud,” he said.
Police have lodged an FIR against Lodha and asked the bank for an account statement.
Lodha opened a trading company, Sai Impex, in his name, Sardarpur police station in-charge Bhupendra Singh told HT, quoting Joshi’s complaint. The account, too, was in the company’s name and was opened in the Sardarpura branch of Punjab National Bank in 2015.
Since demonetisation, authorities have come across instances of shell companies and Jan Dhan accounts, or zero-balance accounts, being used to hide illicit income to escape tax scrutiny.
“We tried contacting Lodha but his family said he was out of town,” Singh said. He went to Surat in neighbouring Gujarat a few days ago and was not back. “We will take further action after verifying the documents from the bank,” Singh said.
Joshi alleged that Lodha also bought a Land Rover and a motorcycle worth Rs 25 lakh in the company’s name.
HT’s repeated calls and messages to Lodha remained unanswered.