Following searches and surveys on residential and office premises last week, the Income Tax department has issued summons to RJD chief Lalu Prasad’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband in connection with its investigation into their alleged investment in shell companies and benami land deals worth over Rs 1,000 crore.
Bharti, a Rajya Sabha member, and her husband, Shailesh Kumar, have been asked to appear before the department in the first week of June.
“The Income Tax department conducted searches on their premises last week. The summons have been issued as a post-search measure to seek details regarding the findings of the searches and surveys. A week’s notice has been given to them to appear before the tax authorities,” said a senior official.
The development follows the arrest of chartered accountant Rajesh Kumar Agrawal by the Enforcement Directorate on May 22. Agrawal is alleged to have helped Lalu’s relatives in illegal transactions.
The Income Tax department had, on May 16, conducted searches and surveys on at least 22 locations in Delhi and adjoining areas allegedly linked to Lalu. Searches were carried out at the residential premises of 12 persons linked to the case while surveys were conducted at 10 office premises associated with the companies being investigated by the department.
Bharti and her husband are alleged to have links with a firm — Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited — which is suspected to have entered into benami deals for purchase of a farmhouse in Delhi’s Bijwasan area. Some other property deals are also under the scanner, said officials.
I-T department officials had said they would apply provisions of the newly-enacted Benami Transactions Act, 1988, which became operational from November 1 last year, in this case. The law provides for a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine.
The action under this new law will be over and above the legal proceedings under the Income Tax Act, 1961, which relates to charges of domestic tax evasion.
Tax officials had said the searches and surveys were conducted following an investigation into the investment pattern in “shell companies”. Lalu’s relatives reportedly held some of the properties in a benami way.
In response to the searches, the RJD chief had last week said that he was “not scared at all” and would continue to fight against “fascist forces”.
The BJP had also accused Lalu, Bharti and his two sons, Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, both Bihar government ministers, of being involved in corrupt land deals worth over Rs 1,000 crore, and asked the central government to probe one such transaction in Delhi.