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… Assembly elections.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the document was not evidence of wrongdoing. “You will recall the Jain-Hawala case,” he told The Hindu , “where the initials of various political leaders were widely claimed to constitute evidence that they had engaged in corruption. The Supreme Court, however, later held that mere diary entries, which anyone can fabricate, do not in themselves have evidentiary value. It is easy to defame individuals.”
Income Tax officials were not immediately available for comment on what efforts they had made to corroborate the findings in the spreadsheet. BJP leader Ravishankar Prasad, however, alleged the department had refused to respond to queries on the issue from Vigilance authorities.
Ispat Industries, which was jointly owned by multinational steel tycoon Lakshmi N. Vittal’s brothers Pramod and Vinod Mittal, was targeted in search operations conducted at 50 locations by Income Tax Authorities on November 30, 2010.
Shortly thereafter, Virbhadra Singh was dropped from the Union Cabinet.
Pramod Mittal is the chairman of IIL while Vinod Mittal is the vice-chairman and managing director of the loss-making company. According to the company website, as on June 30, 2010, the company posted a loss of Rs. 322.34 crore. The domestic steel maker posted losses of Rs. 331 crore for the quarter ending September 30, 2010, compared to Rs. 79 crore during the same period a year ago.
JSW Steel had acquired 41 per cent stake in the debt-ridden Ispat Industries in December 2010, soon after the raids, for about Rs. 2,157 crore. Ispat Industries was subsequently named as JSW Ispat. JSW Steel later increased its stake to 46.75 per cent and remains the single-largest shareholder in JSW Ispat.