The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday dismissed a writ petition by senior journalist Raghav Bahl challenging the initiation of prosecution by the Income Tax department under Black Money Act vis-a-vis correct disclosure of purchase of a property in London against him. Bahl had submitted before the court that the purchase of the said London property was disclosed in the income tax returns for AY 18-19. He told the court that a personal hearing was denied to him before launching the prosecution and that the IT Dept has initiated the actions to tarnish and harm his integrity in public eyes.
Bahl further contended that all the payments made in a foreign bank account in connection with alleged property (foreign asset) were transferred from his legitimate bank accounts and money transferred in foreign bank accounts was duly disclosed. He had added that he has a legitimate source of such income.
However, the revenue counsel defended the actions of the I-T department by arguing that there were contradictions in Bahl’s submissions especially in relation to the ‘assignment’ of the said London property in 2017 to an entity RBRK Investment Ltd. The counsel further argued that Bhal showed the London property as directly held asset in his ITR for AY 18-19, i.e. after the purported assignment and that the prosecution has been launched under Black Money Act for under-reporting of investment in foreign assets by 2,73,000 British Pounds as also for non-disclosure of foreign bank accounts in the name of petitioner’s minor son.
After careful consideration of the facts, especially with regard to the “alleged assignment” of property not being backed by ‘terms, conditions and consideration’, the High Court ruled that there exists a prima-facie case to initiate prosecution against Bahl under Sec. 50 & 51 of Black Money Act, 2015. Rejecting Bahl’s contention that the respondents were trying to put the ‘cart before the horse’, the court observed, “The appreciation of evidence or the reliability of the allegations can not be examined at this stage.”
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