Special Correspondent

It was issued to former AIADMK Minister directing him to file tax returns for 1996-97

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has refused to interfere with an Income Tax Department notice to former AIADMK Minister T.M. Selvaganapathy, directing him to file his tax returns for the assessment year 1996-97.

The Department furnished material details to the former Minister and said he had received Rs. 7.04 crore by way of "commission, which escaped income tax assessment." It said he had divulged only Rs. 44,550 in his original returns filed in September 1996.

Mr. Selvaganapathy challenged the notice on the ground that the basis of the notice was the finding of a criminal court and that the order was now under challenge in the High Court. The Department should not have issued the notice, particularly when the conviction and the sentence were suspended by the High Court.

Justice Elipe Dharma Rao, dismissing his petition, said that once a notice was served the AIADMK Minister ought to have filed returns instead of seeking details from the Department. "Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, I am of the considered view that if the assessee has received the notice from the Department, he has to take steps to file the returns instead of having correspondence with it seeking details."

Clarifying that the pending criminal appeal against the subordinate court order and the income tax departmental proceedings were different from each other, Mr. Justice Rao said that the department need not wait for the disposal of the criminal appeal.