January 31, 2014 12:35:53 am
The Supreme Court Friday paved the way for trial of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa for not filing income tax returns for 1993-94 and directed a Chennai court to wrap up the trial in four months.
A Bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri dismissed the AIADMK chief’s petition to quash prosecution proceedings against her, saying there was no merit in her contention as to why she should not be prosecuted for not filing her returns within stipulated time and without any plausible explanation.
Besides Jayalalithaa, the Bench also cleared the decks for prosecution of her close aide S Sasikala also for not filing income tax return for the same year and against Sasi Enterprises, a partnership firm of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala, for evading tax in the assessment years 1991-92 and 1992-93.
They are being prosecuted under Section 276CC of the Income Tax Act, which provides for rigorous imprisonment for a term ranging from 6 months to 7 years in cases where the amount of tax evasion detected exceeds Rs 1 lakh.
The court questioned Jayalalithaa for moving the higher courts repeatedly against lower court proceedings, thereby delaying progress of the case.
“Each and every order passed by the revenue as well as by the courts were taken up before the higher courts, either through appeals, revisions or writ petitions. The details of the various proceedings in respect of these appeals are given in the written submissions filed by the revenue department, which reveals the dilatory tactics adopted in these cases,” said the court. The Bench cautioned trial courts to “be guarded against those who prefer to see it as a medium for stalling all legal processes”.
The Bench refused to accept the defence by the CM and others that there was no willful failure to file their return cannot be accepted.
Jayalalithaa final tax liability was determined at Rs 12.54 lakh as per the order of Income Tax Appellate Tribunal after giving credit to pre-paid tax. For Sasikala it was Rs 9.81 lakh while for the partnership firm, the tax liability was Rs 32.63 lakh.
The court passed the order on four appeals — two by Sasi Enterprises pertaining to assessment years 1991-92 and 1992-93 and two appeals filed by Jayalalithaa and Sasikala for the assessment years 1993-94.
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