Sahara gets immunity, tax panel accepts its claim that seized papers not evidence

Sahara diaries: The 50-page order, accessed by The Indian Express, shows that the ITSC had earlier rejected the application of the company and then on September 5, 2016 re-admitted it.

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: January 5, 2017 1:25 pm
Sahara, Sahara immunity, sahara papers, sahara papers seized, sahara raid, sahara penalty raid, income tax settlement commission, ITSC, sahara india, Income Tax Department, Arvind Kejriwal, congress, rahul gandhi, indian express news, india news
Significantly, the ITSC has concurred with Sahara’s claim that the “evidentiary value” of the “loose sheets” recovered during the raids “could not be proved” by the Income Tax Department. (Representational image)

In what could be one of the quickest orders passed by the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC), Sahara India has been granted immunity from prosecution and penalty following raids conducted on November 2014 during which “diaries” listing alleged pay-offs to politicians were recovered.

Significantly, the ITSC has concurred with Sahara’s claim that the “evidentiary value” of the “loose sheets” recovered during the raids “could not be proved” by the Income Tax Department.

The 50-page order, accessed by The Indian Express, shows that the ITSC had earlier rejected the application of the company and then on September 5, 2016 re-admitted it.

Also Read | Same diaries flagged in PIL, Supreme Court said don’t see ‘smallest’ evidence

WATCH VIDEO | Sahara India Granted Immunity From Prosecution: Find Out More

After just three hearings, a final order — granting immunity — was passed on November 10, 2016. This was just three days after the last hearing in the case on November 7, 2016.

Usually, the ITSC is given about 18 months to pass final orders and insiders say rarely is an order passed in less than 10-12 months.

The final page of the order states that only Rs 137.58 crore — which was seized during the raids — will now be taxed, which too can be paid by the company in 12 instalments.

The order mentions that Sahara had claimed it was passing through “difficult times” and wanted to pay the tax and penalty in instalments.

On the very first page of the order, the ITSC mentions that “the applicant’s contention is that these are dumb documents written by some disgruntled employees…”

The evidence discussed by the ITSC at length in the order includes the loose sheets and computer print-outs which form so-called Sahara diaries that have alleged payoffs to over 100 politicians from more than 14 parties. A petition mentioning the Sahara diaries was filed by Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court on November 15, 2016 and the next hearing is scheduled for January 11, 2016.

Also Read | Probe whoever is named in Sahara ‘diary’: Congress

The diaires were referred to by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi to allege payoffs to Narendra Modi when he was Chief Minister. The BJP denied the claims; Congress leader Sheila Dixit, one of those named in the diaries, questioned its authenticity. And the Supreme Court has observed that it would not order an inquiry on the basis of these papers unless there were credible material to suggest illegal pay-offs.

The ITSC order concurs with Sahara’s explanation that an employee and a friend of his got together to “implicate and malign” the image of another employee who was the head of Department of the office of Chairman of the Sahara Group. The duo “thought they were being ill-treated by him and he made them work for long and odd hours which in turn was affecting their family life and for various other personal reasons,” the order says.

Also Read | Baseless charge, Rahul Gandhi is scared of Agusta: Ravi Shankar Prasad

The ITSC order mentions how initially the Income Tax Investigation Wing wanted to add Rs 2700 crore to the unaccounted income of Sahara India. Thus, the ITSC has noted, “The Investigation Wing had proposed a much higher amount (about Rs 2700 crore) for addition but reconciliation was carried out during assessment proceedings and a figure of Rs 1217 crore was worked out after consultation with the Investigation Wing.”

 

The ITSC also notes how “statements of third parties were taken by the Department who too have denied having any relation to such entries (in the diaries)…”

The order mentions names of the Sahara employees who it calls “authors” of the diaries but it does not mention the names of persons listed against alleged pay-offs who were purportedly questioned by the IT Department.

The ITSC also notes that initially the company had agreed to the calculation of Rs 1217 crore being its undeclared income but later challenged that.

The conclusion of the ITSC is that, “even though authors on loose papers have claimed fabricating documents…this self-serving claim has limited evidentiary value and the Income Tax has failed to corroborate or prove the correctness of notings on loose papers and electronic documents. No evidence with regard to sources of receipts and nature and purpose of payments were produced before us.”

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  1. B
    Bipin Bhardwaj
    Jan 5, 2017 at 9:24 am
    Self Evident, guilty conscious, corrupt practices, Black money is the drain where the corrupt breed and multiply and become so powerful to rule the country. SC needs the right material , this would give them the material nullifying whatever evidence existed being destro with the complicity of the corrupt system, bureaucracy, and henchmen appointed to eliminate the proofs that prove the guilt. W govt is being-discredited as a house of corruption manition, scams.
    Reply
    1. A
      Ash
      Jan 5, 2017 at 4:20 am
      Then why is this govt helping her out?Or maybe some of their own are involved.
      Reply
      1. A
        Asatyamev Jayate
        Jan 5, 2017 at 3:59 am
        That means people who deposited 2.5 lac lost immunity. Small fish jail, big fish bail.
        Reply
        1. I
          IML sood
          Jan 4, 2017 at 11:30 pm
          Why yellow journalism by IE. Where it will lead to!
          Reply
          1. J
            Jim
            Jan 5, 2017 at 4:08 am
            If this toilet paper is considered evidence then God save already fkedup Indian justice system
            Reply
            1. J
              Jim
              Jan 5, 2017 at 4:16 am
              Indian public waste their energy I. ch000tiya issues (isms) of sickularism, povertism and libtardism. Their interests will be better served if they give Modi the support in LS and RS to drive reformslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Modi would want to etch his name in history by driving these reformslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;In this deal everyone benefits - ppl, Modi and nationlt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Let industrialist earn and have fleets of Rolls Royce. Ppl should aim for their own respective hondas
              Reply
              1. N
                Nitesh
                Jan 5, 2017 at 10:43 am
                First have it and then caught by IT then we will also see
                Reply
                1. N
                  Nitesh
                  Jan 5, 2017 at 10:43 am
                  Mahesh Shah
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    Kalidas
                    Jan 5, 2017 at 8:55 am
                    This news is a case of tempering with evidence. Both Rahul hi and Kejriwal made this a major issue of corruption involving PM Modi. He was repeatedly asked to give simple reply whether or not he took the alleged money of ₹65 crores (Sahara Birla). Modi never replied. He set into motion a machinery to remove these evidences from the precincts of CBDT with a certificate having no evidentiary value. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The idea was to blunt Rahul-Kejri allegations. He can now say that even the Income Tax department is ignoring them as evidence. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Link it to (1) recent release of Sahara Chairman from jail and (2) granting immunity to from further prosecution. The ITSC normally have 18 months to decide, and never less than 12 months in few cases, took only 3 days to p the order almost guaranteeing exoneration later, by granting immunity from prosecution to a criminal who was found guilty for which he was jailed and denied release to recover dues.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;No Government department can think of granting immunity from prosecution to a man like Subrato Roy, Chairman of Sahara Group who has been charged by CBI, SEBI, Banks, ITdept. for consolidated fraud amount of ₹30,000 crores.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Obviously, Sahara struck bargaining deal to benefits of ₹1500 crores (Original demand ₹2700 crores, reduced to ₹1200 crores per the above report) against a statement that the evidence was due to disgruntled employees. The ultimate aim was to save PM Modi from further investigations.
                    Reply
                    1. V
                      Vihari Naidu
                      Jan 5, 2017 at 9:50 am
                      The ugly underbelly of BJP is exposed. Now i am 100% sure that Modi zee got something out of it.
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        SubbuI
                        Jan 5, 2017 at 6:29 am
                        CHEATER. CORRUPT. LIER, DECEIVER. ARROGANT.. EGOIST. THUG. GOON. DICTATOR. MENTALLY UN SOUND. CROOK. . ILLETRATE. NALAYAK.FOOLISH, lt;br/gt;OVER CONFIDENT. OVER SMART. LOW IQ. IRRITATOR. WAR MONGER CRIMINALlt;br/gt;COMMUNALIST. DIVISIVE. CURSE TO INDIAlt;br/gt;MODI HATAV-DESH BACHAV
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          SubbuI
                          Jan 5, 2017 at 5:50 am
                          PRAMOD MAHAJAN-gt;ELIMINATED-NOBODY EVEN SUSPECTED WHO BENEFITED?lt;br/gt;RAM KISHAN ADVANIgt; LADDER KICKED AFTER CLIMBING-DIS GRACED AND SIDE LINED.WHO BENEFITED?lt;br/gt;HAREN PANDYA ANOTHER THREAT FOR GUJARATH DICTATOR-ASINATED. WHO BENIFITED?lt;br/gt;OUT LAW AND TADIPAR,HARDENED CRIMINAL MADE PARTY PRESIDENT! WHO BENEFITEDlt;br/gt;GOPINATH MUNDE KILLED IN FIXED CAR CRASH, NO FURTHER PROBE. WHO BENEFITED?lt;br/gt;1LAC AND 70 THOSAND CRORES BANK LOAN(NPS) PARDONED OF INDUSTRIALISTS AND BIG BUSSINESS DONER FRIENDS.WHO BENEFITED?lt;br/gt;ONE AND ONLY NARENDRA BAI DAMODAR DAS MODI THE CURSE TO INDIAlt;br/gt;MODI HATAO- DESH BACHAV
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            SubbuI
                            Jan 5, 2017 at 5:27 am
                            SAHARA PAPERSgt;NALAYAK NMODI GOT ONE MORE CLEAN CHIT NOT FROM ANY COURT FROM HIS OWN HANDS WHAT A FARCE? THIS BUTCHER OF GUJARATH ESCAPE LAW SOME HOW WITH WHATVHIS GOONS CALL? YES -CLEAN CHIT! WHAT THE GOON OUT LAW ENCOUNTER ACCUCED SHAH HIS HIT MAN GOT? HIS THUGS CALL IT CLEAN CHIT? NOW ONE MORE. THE BABY KILLED BEFORE DELIVERY. SHAME ON THE INDIAN HITLER IN MAKING.
                            Reply
                            1. M
                              Mytake
                              Jan 5, 2017 at 3:44 am
                              Nothing less than violence is going to stop those political bstrds and the bureaucratic buggers. There should be one single week when all the political scoundrels and bureaucrats and their illogical supporters are destro in one stroke.
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                r
                                Jan 5, 2017 at 4:06 am
                                Bhai chalees karod liye hain to kuch to farz banta hai
                                Reply
                                1. R
                                  r
                                  Jan 5, 2017 at 9:38 am
                                  You should go behind bars for at least six months, not in any jail but mental asylum.
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    Mathurwa
                                    Jan 5, 2017 at 2:19 am
                                    Sahara stings working well for Sahara because the stings are attached to who is who in India. Super fast decision to exonerate Jumla Sarkar.
                                    Reply
                                    1. M
                                      Mathura
                                      Jan 5, 2017 at 5:56 am
                                      With such type of Income tax machinery decisions no wonder we get another head line "Demonetisation complete failure? 97% of banned notes back in banks" question is whose black money Jumla sarkar was searching through demonetisation with common man standing in Q for his own money
                                      Reply
                                      1. U
                                        URbecozUthink
                                        Jan 5, 2017 at 9:30 am
                                        OMG!!! What colored Journalism!!! The order was ped on 10.11.2016. Much before RG, AK and PB made a mountain of this Molehill and the SC refused to look into it based on facts of the case.... Still today it is being shown as a new development....ofcourse IE and it's Journalists are bigger and better than two judicial authorities... Have some shame and stop misleading the public which stupidly puts thier faith in you....
                                        Reply
                                        1. G
                                          george
                                          Jan 5, 2017 at 7:55 am
                                          Well, soon Sahara will be given an award for exemplary conduct and corporate governance. There is no insution in India today that is not corrupt. The current government is no different than the previous ones.
                                          Reply
                                          1. A
                                            Alok Asthana
                                            Jan 5, 2017 at 3:53 pm
                                            Modi can't be saved for long. He'll have to go - whether back to Gujarat, or jail
                                            Reply
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