Income tax informers in Mumbai will go on indefinite hunger strike from Monday to demand Rs 127 crore of reward money they say they haven’t been paid — some of it outstanding since 22 years.
Five of them are planning the strike at Azad Maidan, and they say they have told the Finance Ministry and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) in Delhi, about it.
K. Gupta, a 70-year-old informer, who has done this for 26 years now, said between them, the five informers have tipped off Mumbai income tax (I-T) officials in 101 cases, which has helped the recovery of Rs 1,270 crore in tax.
I-T laws say informers should get 10 per cent of the recovered amount. Gupta claims the I-T department owes him over Rs 25 crore in rewards since 1996.
G. Sharma (52), who says he is owed dues of over Rs two crore since 1987, said informers like him have had no luck despite following up with the Finance ministry, the CBDT and senior I-T officers in Mumbai for years.
CBDT Chairman S.S.N. Moorthy said CBDT officer (Investigation) Sudhir Chandra was looking into the matter.
Chandra said: “This matter is with the Director General (Investigation), Mumbai. Anyway, rewards are a matter of interpretation of the law”.
Mala Ramakrishnan, DG (Investigation), I-T department, Mumbai, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
Informer J. Sinh (42), who claimed dues pending since 1991, said if the department initially recovers Rs 25 lakh or more, it pays out an interim reward of Rs one lakh. The rest is given after full recovery and after a tax defaulter’s assessment order is finalised.
Typically, after a raid, the department prepares an appraisal report of items recovered and forwards the case to the assessing officer in whose jurisdiction the default occurs.
After this, rewards are given to the informers and the I-T raid team.
Gupta complained that the department conducts an audit before passing a reward on to informers, but for the I-T raid team’s rewards, no audit is conducted. The informers said the department holds up their rewards at the audit stage.
Gupta said some informers have even died waiting for their dues — listing among them, K. Agrawal, who died last year, after tipping off the department in 25 cases and getting only interim amounts of less than Rs 7 lakh.
He added that the total reward amount pending across all informers would be much higher since many of them are not part of the hunger strike.