Tamil Nadu

‘Make papers seized from Minister public’

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DMK objects to I-T department filing documents before the HC in a sealed cover

Suspecting that a bunch of documents seized by the Income Tax department from Health Minister C. Vijaya Baskar and others during raids conducted on April 7, 2017 would reveal a huge money trail and involvement of big names, DMK leader N. Marudhu Ganesh on Thursday insisted on making the documents public.

Arguing a case before a Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam on the alleged bribing of voters during the R.K. Nagar byelection, senior counsel P. Wilson objected to the I-T department submitting copies of the seized documents before the court in a sealed cover.

He said when the documents had already been shared with the Election Commission of India, which decided to rescind the bypoll notification, there was no point in maintaining secrecy.

Citing the instance of the Centre having submitted documents on the Rafale deal in a sealed cover before the Supreme Court and later accusing the court of having misread certain portions, the senior counsel said that in order to avoid such instances, it would be better to serve his client copies of the documents submitted by I-T department in a sealed cover.

A.P. Srinivas, senior standing counsel for the I-T department, said he had chosen to file the documents in a sealed cover because the ECI too had filed certain documents before the court in a sealed cover. The sealed cover was submitted along with a counter affidavit and a copy of the latter had been served on the senior counsel, he added.

Mr. Srinivas brought it to the notice of the judges that a total amount of ₹4.71 crore was seized from the Health Minister and eight others on April 7, 2017. “During the search, evidences were found and seized relating to distribution of money to voters in R.K. Nagar,” he said.

Consequent to the search, a letter was addressed to the Director General (Expenditure Monitoring), ECI, on April 9, 2017. Along with the letter, copies of the relevant seized documents, their English translations and a summary chart was also sent to the ECI, the standing counsel said, and stated that all those documents had now been placed before the court.

In so far as the contents of a letter written by DMK president M.K. Stalin to the Governor on April 12 reportedly stating that the I-T department had made available one of the seized documents in the public domain, the counsel said the statement had been denied by the department in its counter affidavit.

‘Highly confidential’

“The nature of search and seizure information is highly confidential and the Income Tax Department has never divulged any such facts in the public domain or media as alleged by the petitioner,” the counter affidavit read. It also stated that Income Tax assessment proceedings for the seized money were under way. Disclosing that notices had already been issued to the Health Minister as well as others, the department pointed out that it had time till December 31 this year to complete the proceedings.

After taking the counter affidavit and the sealed cover on file, the judges adjourned the case to January 18 for further hearing.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2019 2:51:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/make-papers-seized-from-minister-public/article25963784.ece

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