The Income Tax (I-T) department has strengthened its case against Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh as its probe has unearthed Rs 5.41 crore unaccounted cash transactions for a farmhouse bought by his children.
While the CBI is yet to make any headway in the alleged disproportionate assets case against Singh, the I-T investigation has connected the transactions for the farmhouse with Vakamulla Chandrasekhar. Earlier this year, BJP leader Arun Jaitley had accused Virbhadra of granting an extension to Venture Energy and Technology, promoted by Chandrasekhar, for executing a hydel project in the state in 2012 as quid pro quo for a Rs 1.5 crore-loan to Singh’s wife Pratibha and a Rs 2.4 crore-loan to Virbhadra.
The Indian Express has reviewed I-T documents, including the statement of seller of the 1.8 acre farmhouse in Delhi, which bought by Maple Destinations and Dreambuild Pvt Ltd, owned by Virbhadra’s son Vikramaditya and daughter Aprajita Kumari. The purchase of the farmhouse was first reported by this newspaper on January 3. Vikramaditya and Aprajita own 95 per cent and 5 per cent of Maple respectively.
Vikramaditya was the signatory in the sales deed of the farmhouse, while Chandrasekhar was a witness. I-T investigation into the purchase of the farmhouse by Maple led to the impounding of the documents from the original seller, one Picheshwar Gadde.
In its statement to the I-T department, Gadde said that “the farmhouse was sold in FY [financial year] 2011 to M/s Maple Destination Dreambuild Pvt Ltd for an amount of Rs 6.61 crore”. However, the registration deed and Maple’s records show that the farmhouse was bought for Rs 1.2 crore.
Further, in his statement, Gadde said that Rs 5.41 crore was paid in cash. “I accept my mistake that I have not paid taxes on the total amount of these properties,” he said.
The I-T department also took the statement of Gadde’s accountant Rakesh Sejwal, who said that an employee of Chandrasekhar, Pathak, gave Rs 5.41 crore to him.
“This amount was delivered by Mr Pathak to me in 10 to 15 installments in cash at various locations in Delhi, mostly his office in East of Kailash. To the best of my knowledge, Mr Pathak…was an employee of one Mr V Chandrasekhar. Mr V Chandrasekhar had made the payment for the deal with Maple as mentioned…through his employee Mr Pathak”.
Gadde, too, said cash was paid “through Chandrasekhar or his P A Pathak on behalf of Maple Destination Dreambuild Pvt Ltd. Rakesh Sejwal…used to collect cheque/cash. Almost 95 per cent of the amount was delivered to me before the date of signing the registry”.
On Wednesday, hearing a PIL filed by AAP leader and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the Delhi High Court had asked both the CBI and the I-T department to file all the records from the investigation before it. The CBI maintained that it has not found evidence to proceed against Singh.
When contacted by The Indian Express for the January 3 story, Chandrasekhar, a defaulter with various banks, had said that he gave loans to Singh, whom he knows for the past 18 years, from the proceeds of his income from farming in Andhra Pradesh.
He told the I-T department the same thing. The I-T office in Chandigarh, which is pursuing the probe against Singh, had referred the matter to its local office in Vishakapatanam to investigate Chandrasekhar’s claim that he “received huge agricultural income from land belonging to two persons, namely Tripurana Ahalya Devi and Vakamulla Anjaneyulu”.
However, investigation by field units revealed that Ahalya Devi does not know either Chandrasekhar or his father, Anjaneyulu. The I-T report states that the documents furnished by Chandrasekhar to the department were the same documents she sent by post to an East of Kailash address in December 2012 “as he had shown interest in purchase of land”.
“The claim of Chandrasekhar that agri products sold to various entities at 31/35, 2nd Floor, Lawrence Road, Industrial Area, Delhi-1100035, appears to be far from truth,” the report said.
When contacted, Singh said, “What I-T department documents are saying is all made up.” Vikramaditya said, “The matter is sub judice and it’s not appropriate to comment on the subject or even to write on the issue. What others had told I-T department, I am not aware.” Chandrashekhar did not respond to text messages and telephone calls.