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National Herald case: SC to hear Rahul, Sonia Gandhi tax appeals in August

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta granted liberty to the petitioners to approach Delhi Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) for expeditious hearing of pending appeal challenging the retrospective cancellation of registration granted to Young Indian under the I-T Act.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2019 11:00 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
New Delhi
national herald case,SC on national herald case,rahul gandhi
A view of Herald House, at ITO, in New Delhi. (Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would hear in August the appeals filed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia against the Delhi High Court order allowing re-assessment of their Income Tax for 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case.

A bench comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta granted liberty to the petitioners to approach Delhi Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) for expeditious hearing of pending appeal challenging the retrospective cancellation of registration granted to Young Indian under the I-T Act.

“List the further hearing on this batch of appeals in the week commencing August 19. We grant liberty to the petitioners to approach the ITAT, Delhi, for expeditious hearing and final disposal of appeal...,” the bench said in its order.

The Gandhis and senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes have challenged in the apex court the Delhi High Court’s September 10 verdict which dismissed their plea against the re-assessment of their tax for 2011-12.

During the hearing on Tuesday, the bench initially observed that it can ask the ITAT to expedite the proceedings pending before it in the matter.

It said: “You have challenged the cancellation of registration before the tribunal. We may have some difficulty if suppose we say that the cancellation was bad. So proper procedure would be to wait for ITAT order. We will then have the benefit of the tribunal’s order. If you succeed there, then issue of re-opening goes.” To this, senior advocates P Chidambaram and Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, said, “Yes, that will be proper”.

Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Income Tax department, said that proceedings pending before the ITAT was different from the appeals before the apex court.

“Further hearing in these appeals should not be linked with the outcome of the ITAT,” Jain said.

However, the bench told Jain, “Therefore, carefully we have not said that list the matter after decision of ITAT”.

On January 8, the I-T department had informed the apex court that an assessment order (AO) with respect to tax of Rahul and Sonia for 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case has been passed but has not been given effect.

The tax matter is related to the National Herald case in which other the Congress leaders are also facing criminal proceedings.

On December 4, last year the apex court had allowed I-T department to re-assess the tax of the top Congress leaders. It had, however, restrained the department from “giving effect” to its order.

The I-T probe against the Congress leaders has arisen from the investigation into a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy before a trial court here in connection with the National Herald case, in which the trio is out on bail.

Sonia and Rahul were granted bail in the case by the trial court on December 19, 2015.

A tax evasion petition (TEP) was also addressed to the finance minister by Swamy.

In the complaint before the trial court, Sonia, Rahul and others have been accused of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian (YI) had obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) owed to the Congress party.

It was alleged that YI, which was incorporated in November 2010 with a capital of Rs 50 lakh, had acquired almost all the shareholding of AJL, which was running the National Herald newspaper.

The I-T department had said the shares Rahul has in YI would lead him to have an income of Rs 154 crore and not about Rs 68 lakh, as was assessed earlier.

It has already issued a demand notice for Rs 249.15 crore to YI for the assessment year 2011-12.

First Published: Apr 24, 2019 11:00 IST