Robert Vadra gets more time to respond to Income Tax notice FILE PHOTO: Priyanka Gandhi (R), daughter of India’s Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi, and her husband Robert Vadra arrive at a polling station to cast their votes in New Delhi on April 10, 2014. (RAVEENDRAN/AFP via Getty Images)
THE Delhi High Court on Friday (28) granted three more weeks to businessman and son-in-law of Congress Party chief Sonia Gandhi, Robert Vadra to respond to the notices issued to him by the Income Tax (I-T) department under the black money law.
The court said the department can continue with the assessment proceedings, but no final order shall be passed by it.
A bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh issued notice to the I-T department and asked it to file within four weeks its response to Vadra’s petition challenging notices issued to him on December 4, 2018 and December 18, 2019 under Section 10 (1) of the Black Money Act, 2015.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on August 10.
Vadra sought to declare the notices issued to him 2018 and 2019 notices, and show cause notices issued to him in May this year as “illegal and unconstitutional”.
He alleged in his plea that the conduct of the authorities in issuing five communications to him is reflective of their mala fide attempt to pursue a political vendetta against him, his wife Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who is the general secretary of Congress Party and his in-laws.
The Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Central Range-VII, has issued a notice to Vadra on December 8, 2018, under the Black Money Act alleging that he acquired beneficial interest or ownership in 2010 in the property at 12 Ellerton House, Bryanston Square in London, though its legal ownership was transferred in the name of Skylite Investment FZE, a company incorporated in the UAE.
It alleged that the elaborate renovation works in the London property were being undertaken by arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari’s nephew Sumit Chadha under Vadra’s constant monitoring, hence the property was beneficially owned by the petitioner and was for his use and benefit.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Vadra, contended that the basis of the notices are documents of Bhandari, statement given by Manoj Arora, who is said to be Vadra’s close aide, and foreign enquiries and 18 e-mails.
He claimed that the department has not even supplied all documents to them and added that Vadra was not being given sufficient time to respond to the notices.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the I-T Department, said it is not something which has happened suddenly and the first notice was issued to Vadra three years ago and the deadline to respond is May 31.
Mehta and Additional Solicitor General Balbir Singh said they have no objection if court grants further time to Vadra to file replies to the notices. Singh submitted that under the law, a person is supposed to declare all assets he is holding since 2010, bank accounts and the assets abroad, failing which he is subjected to scrutiny.
Vadra said that under the provisions of the Black Money Act, in order to allege that a person is beneficial owner of a property, it is a mandatory and essential statutory pre-condition to establish that such an individual has provided consideration for the assets for the immediate or future benefit of himself or any other person.
Meanwhile, the high court listed a batch of petitions by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and others for June 3. The challenged the revenue department’s decision to transfer their I-T assessments from one section to another on the ground that their cases will be treated along with Sanjay Bhandari’s group.