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Opinion

TI case against Karti Chidambaram, wife for premature property sale: Court

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The Madras High Court said on Friday that income tax reassessment proceedings against Congressman Karti Chidambaram and his wife Srinidhi Chidambaram for failing to disclose income of Rs 7 crore, following the sale of real estate in 2015 close to the Muttukadu village on the outskirts of Chennai, was “premature”.

Allowing for a petition for review filed by the Chidambaram couple, Judge N Sathish Kumar ordered that the complaint filed by the Deputy Director of Income Tax is “premature at this stage” and “launched by an incompetent person.”

“The basis for filing the complaint,” said the court, “is only the formation of the opinion of the deputy director of the department of Income Tax.”

Two complaints were filed for offenses under Sections 276C (1) and 277 of the Income Tax Act 1961 against Karti and another complaint against the husband and wife under Sections 276C (1), 277 and 278 of the law.

According to TI officials, the Chidambarams received the amount of the property’s sale through a cash transaction, but did not disclose it on their income tax returns in fiscal year 2014-2015.

The court further added that “there must be conclusions that the statement given by the evaluated during the evaluation procedure is false” and must be registered by the official in question in the reevaluation procedure.

“Without the findings being recorded, this court is of the opinion that the prosecution cannot be initiated simply on the basis of some statements that are said to have been recorded by third parties,” the judge said. Chief lawyer Kapil Sibal, among a crowd of other lawyers, appeared on behalf of Srinidhi and Karti, the son of former union finance minister P Chidambaram.

However, the court ruled that re-evaluation procedures could be initiated if the authority in question, such as the evaluating officer, “concludes a procedure under Section 153 of the Income Tax Act, is open to department to initiate a criminal action according to the law ”.

Previously, the case was transferred to a special court for crimes committed by parliamentarians and members of the economic crimes court. The special court had rejected the discharge requests and Karti and Srinidhi Chidambaram challenged it in the higher court for review.

Reference site

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