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For Bachchans, I-T just keeps piling

The I-T Dept, however, says it is only following the due process of law. Pics

india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 17:36 IST
Manish Pachouly
Manish Pachouly

Yet another income-tax notice served on the Bachchan family had close aides screaming conspiracy on Tuesday. Sent in March this year to Lotus Investment — a company promoted by Ajitabh, brother of actor Amitabh Bachchan — the notice had sought income details.

Till 2002, Jaya Bachchan was a director on the board of the company. Later, she resigned.

While those close to Amitabh blamed the notice on a sustained campaign launched against the family by the I-T department, officials in Mumbai questioned the timing of the “news leak”, saying the notice was served over 70 days ago, on March 30.

Dismissing the allegations, they said the I-T department was only following the due process of the law and if the affected parties had any objections, they were free to take legal recourse.

The department had sent a notice to Lotus Investment, seeking details of the company’s income from 1995 to 2000. The notice was mailed to ‘Pratiksha’, the bungalow owned by Amitabh, because that was the address on the returns the firm filed during that time, said sources. The company is now situated in Versova.

Ajitabh was unavailable for comment and was said to be out of Mumbai. He is said to be the only prominent person on the board of the company now.

The I-T department made it clear that Jaya would not be required to reply to the notice, as she was no longer on the board of directors.

The sources said the department’s assessment wing had raised a demand of Rs 2.3 crore following a search on the company in 1998 and levied interest for 11 years on the arrears. “But the company went into appeal before the commissioner (appeal), who asked us not to levy compounded interest for 11 years but claim the same for individual years,” said an I-T officer.

Hariom Tulsyan, chief commissioner, income tax, Mumbai, refused to specifically comment on the notice but said an individual in this kind of a situation had several forums to approach for redressal.

About the notice to Lotus Investment, he said that the department never commented on individual cases. He denied there was any irregularity in sending the notice to the Bachchans. “When we issue a notice, we’re confident that it’s totally legal,” he said.

Asked if any political influence was at play behind the notices, he said: “That’s for you to judge.”

Asked further if the department was angry with Amitabh, Tulsyan said: “The department is never angry with anyone. The department works as per the I-T Act and it's responsible and accountable for everything it does.”

A senior I-T officer said the existing office-bearer of the company (the principal officer) would have to reply to the notice. In a similar case, when the I-T department had issued a notice to Amitabh's company, ABCL, in December last year, the principal officer -- a paid employee, not Amitabh himself — had replied.

Meanwhile, the protest over the reported ‘notice’ to Amitabh on purchasing expensive sunglasses reached Mumbai from Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.

About 20 people from the ‘Amitabh Bachchan Fan Club’ protested outside the Income-Tax Bhavan at New Marine Lines.

First Published: Jun 17, 2006 17:36 IST