Tamil Nadu

Sasikala used banned notes to buy malls: IT Dept to Madras HC

The Income Tax Department on Friday informed the Madras High Court of having passed Assessment Orders on proceedings initiated by it against former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s close aide V.K. Sasikala for having reportedly purchased a resort, two shopping malls, a software company, a sugar mill, a paper mill and 50 windmills, all worth several hundred crores of rupees, using demonetised ₹500 and ₹1,000 currency notes after November 8, 2016.

Justice Anita Sumanth was told by the senior standing counsel for the department A.P. Srinivas and A.N.R. Jaya Prathap that it had completed the proceedings initiated against her for the financial years 2012-13 to 2017-18 and uploaded the Assessment Orders on the Income Tax department website on Wednesday.

The judge was told that the assessee could access the orders by logging into the portal and proceed further in accordance with law. After recording the submissions made by the counsel, the judge dismissed as infructuous a batch of six writ petitions filed by Ms. Sasikala, now undergoing a four-year imprisonment in a disproportionate assets case. The writ petitions were filed seeking permission to cross-examine a host of witnesses, including the petitioner’s niece J. Krishnapriya, lawyer S. Senthil and some businessmen, whose statements had been recorded by the I-T department sleuths.

No cross-examination

However, since the standing counsel for I-T Department told the court that the inquiries had been completed and the final Assessment Orders passed, the judge pointed out that the question of permitting cross-examination would not arise at all. While the charges against the petitioner for the financial years 2012-13 to 2016-17 were regarding companies in which she had become a shareholder, it was in 2017-18 that she was charged with using demonetised currency notes.

According to the I-T Department sleuths, a search conducted at the residence of Ms. Krishnapriya on November 9, 2017, led to the recovery of photo images of two loose sheets of a handwritten paper from her mobile phone. The names of prominent business establishments were written along with certain figures. The petitioner’s niece conceded that it was she who had taken photographs of a loose sheet of paper on October 8, 2017 and saved them on her mobile phone.

She also reportedly said that the loose sheet was found in one of the several envelopes that had been received when her aunt had stayed in her residence after being let out from the Parapparana Agrahara prison in Karnataka on parole.

Taken a photograph

Claiming to have been instructed by the convict to destroy the contents of the envelopes after going through them, she had taken a photograph of a particular loose sheet since it contained details of amount paid to business houses.

Further inquiries by the I-T Department led to the discovery of the loose sheet having been written by Mr. Senthil, who also reportedly gave a statement to officials that the contents of the sheets were about cash transactions towards acquisition of various assets during the period of demonetisation.

He claimed to have given legal opinion for purchasing a shopping mall at Perambur in Chennai and another at K.K. Nagar in Madurai, apart from a resort in Puducherry. He also cleared the purchase of a paper mill in Coimbatore, a sugar mill at Oragadam near Chennai, a software company on Old Mahabalipuram Road and wind mills in Coimbatore.

In his statement, the advocate said that the writ petitioner called him to Apollo Hospital, where Jayalalithaa was admitted, in December 2016, and told him that advance money in old demonetized currency notes had been paid to the owners of all the properties.

She instructed him to write down the details on a sheet of paper as dictated by her, put them in a sealed cover and to keep it in safe custody.

Subsequently, he claimed to have handed over that sheet of paper back to the convict when she was residing at Ms. Krishnapriya’s residence on being released on parole in October 2017.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 4:49:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/sasikala-used-banned-notes-to-buy-malls/article30363473.ece

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