Tamil Nadu

HC dismisses former Chief Secretary’s petition

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He is accused of receiving illegal gratification of ₹ 49.76 cr. from Sekar Reddy’s firm

The Madras High Court on Thursday dismissed a writ petition filed by former Chief Secretary P. Rama Mohana Rao accusing the Income Tax department of having denied him an opportunity to cross-examine a crucial witness, whose reported statement was supposedly the basis for a raid conducted on his residence when he was holding the top post in bureaucratic hierarchy on December 10, 2016.

Justice P.T. Asha refused to entertain the petition after observing that there would be no need to cross-examine a witness, who had been declared hostile after the examination in chief by the I-T department on December 19 and 20. The judge told the petitioner’s counsel that declaration of the witness as hostile was actually beneficial to the petitioner and so a cross-examination was not necessary at all.

Senior standing counsel for I-T department A.P. Srinivas told the court that the statement of K. Srinivasalu of SRS Mining, owned by businessman Sekar Reddy and others, was not the only evidence available against the petitioner. He claimed there were other incriminating materials and the department was confident of proving tax evasion for ₹ 49.76 crore allegedly received by the petitioner from the firm.

The I-T sleuths raided the premises of SRS Mining in Chennai on December 8, 2016 and seized notes containing details of payments made by the firm to many influential people. The notings revealed a total of ₹ 49.76 crore paid in instalments on different dates against code names ‘S2’ and ‘Temple.’ When questioned, Srinivasalu reportedly told them that both were code names used to refer to the then Chief Secretary.

He said the present writ petitioner was referred by those names because he had also served as private secretary-2 to the then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and his residence was close to a temple for Lord Ayyappa at Anna Nagar here. His statement was recorded before the sleuths raided the residence of the writ petitioner, who was the then Chief Secretary in search of other materials.

However, in his affidavit, the petitioner claimed that he gave full access to I-T sleuths during the raid only after they said the search was in connection with his son’s business affairs. “Although the raid was clearly illegal, because the person against whom the raid was done was my son and they were not entitled to search my house, yet, being a civil servant, I maintained my silence to allow them to complete their operation,” he said.

Now that the prime witness in the case had retracted his statement, the petitioner wanted to cross-examine him to prove that the entire proceedings initiated against him were baseless.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 4:39:26 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-dismisses-former-chief-secretarys-petition/article25844717.ece

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