The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Income-Tax Department to continue with the tax reassessment of Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi for the year 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case, but directed that the final assessment order should not be given effect till it heard their appeal challenging the Delhi High Court decision denying them relief.
Their appeals came up on Tuesday before a bench of Justices A K Sikri, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer shortly before the court was to break for lunch. The bench said it would not be sitting in the afternoon due to “health issues” of one of the judges. Senior advocates Kapil Sibal and P Chidambaram, appearing for the petitioners, then said there was a limitation period for completing the assessment and sought a stay on it till the next date of hearing.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the I-T Department, opposed a stay and requested the court to hear the matter. But the bench said it could now be scheduled for hearing next only in January.
It did not stay the assessment proceedings but ordered that “since the limitation period for completing the assessment is expiring, in the meantime, it would be open to the Assessing Officer to complete the assessment and pass the assessment order as well”. It added “however, till the next date of hearing that would not be given effect”. The bench clarified that it had not gone into the merits at this stage. “We make it clear that since the matter is still at the preliminary stage and limitation is expiring, aforesaid course of action is adopted without going into the merits of the case.”
The probe against the Congress leaders stems from an investigation into a complaint filed by BJP’s Subramanian Swamy before a trial court in connection with the National Herald case. The next date of hearing is January 8, 2019.