Pulling up the income tax department for its poor attitude and failing to discharge its duty, the Supreme Court on Friday asked it to inform within three weeks about what action it has taken against the two Sahara firms and what steps it is proposing to take with regard to the recovery of tax worth more than Rs 10,000 crore.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice TS Thakur asked the department to file an affidavit giving details about the action already taken by the income tax authorities and proposed to be taken. It also asked the department to give particulars about past assessments and the copies of relevant assessment orders, besides information about the appeals filed against the assessment orders.
Slamming the department, the court said: “You must have a clear understanding and a comprehensive road map. You need to act. You are not an ornamental annexure to the proceedings. So much has been said by this court. You must exercise the powers vested in you. We have not prevented you from doing your job. You are not here to assist. You have independent powers.”
“There is a finding that Sahara has collected Rs 22,000 crore and refunded Rs 17,000 crore to its 4 crore investors. There is a suggestion that there are no depositors which meant that it is some other money, which is unaccounted money. What have you done so far,” it asked the department.
“They (Sahara firms) must have shown this unaccounted money in their books of accounts. They must have filed tax returns. Have they included this undisclosed money there?”
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that the department wants to be impleaded as a party in the case as it has to recover tax to the tune of Rs 10,015 crore. He said that there seem to be no depositors and it may be that someone else must have parked their black money. “We want to initiate proceedings and Sebi will have to ensure that some amount paid by Sahara should also go to the government,” he said.
However, Sahara senior counsel S Ganesh told the court that no real purpose will be served by impleading the department as a party and all the information was in the department's knowledge. “Different additions have been made in different years. In 2011-12, Sahara has made additions of Rs 7,000 crore and substantial orders have been passed. We have already filed appeals against the assessment orders, ” he added.
The apex court also reserved it orders on allowing Sahara Chief Subrata Roy parole for at least 40 days to sell his properties to raise Rs 10,000 crore for his release from Tihar jail. It also reserved order on sale of its three luxury hotels Dream Downtown and The Plaza in New York and Grosvenor House in London.