Justice AP Shah: CBDT should oppose immunity given to Sahara

Alleging that the ‘Sahara-Birla payoff papers’ show systematic bribery of politicians, Justice AP Shah demands they be handed over to the CBI for a thorough probe

Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

Former Delhi Chief Justice AP Shah on Monday wrote to the Chairperson of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) asking the CBDT to challenge the Income Tax Settlement Commission (ITSC) order that granted immunity to Sahara. Justice Shah also sought a criminal investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the ‘Sahara-Birla papers’ that lists alleged pay-offs to several politicians—including Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was Gujarat Chief Minister


Justice Shah was representing Citizens Whistleblowers Forum (CWF)—platform for whistleblowers—as its chairperson. He wrote that the CWF had got authentic copies from a whistleblower the full appraisal report prepared by the CBDT in the Aditya Birla case, the ITSC’s order in the Sahara case, apart from other documents seized in the raids on Aditya Birla and Sahara groups. “These documents show systematic bribery of politicians including several chief ministers and public servants by these business groups,” he said. However, despite the evidence, the matter was not forwarded to the CBI.


Justice Shah urged the CBDT Chairperson to “direct the officers concerned to challenge the order of the ITSC by moving appropriate legal proceedings and also to forward the entire record, documents and appraisal report to the CBI for a thorough criminal investigation.”


The various documents listed payments running into lakhs and crores made to leaders of practically all political parties, including Opposition parties and many chief ministers. In October 2013, the CBI conducted a raid an Aditya Birla Group office on Parliament Street and recovered cash worth ₹25 crore and papers that mention payments such as to ‘Gujarat CM-12’.

Justice Shah urged the CBDT Chairperson to “direct the officers concerned to challenge the order of the ITSC by moving appropriate legal proceedings and also to forward the entire record, documents and appraisal report to the CBI for a thorough criminal investigation.”


The Indian Express had on January 5 revealed that the Settlement Commission had hurriedly absolved the Sahara group on November 10, 2016 in the ‘Sahara papers’ case on which the opposition has been demanding an inquiry. The ITSC had also granted Sahara India immunity from prosecution and penalty following Income Tax Department raids on three New Delhi premises of Sahara Group of companies on November 22, 2014. Apart from recovering ₹135 crore in cash, several Excel sheets, computer printouts and typed and handwritten papers were also seized listing alleged pay-offs to politicians.


The Income Tax Department had “disbelieved the bogus explanations” given by Sahara and Birla officers and had held the documents were “correct/ non-fictitious” and depicted the “true state of affairs”, said Justice Shah, pointing out that according to Section 132 (4A) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, the contents of any books, documents or records are deemed to be to be true and correct.


Leading lawyer Prashant Bhushan, also a founding member of CWF, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of the NGO ‘Common Cause’ seeking a court-monitored inquiry into the charges of huge money paid by the two corporate bodies to various politicians and public servants. The next hearing of the case, by a two-member Supreme Court bench, is slated for January 11.

Read our full coverage of the Sahara-Birla Papers and the Common Cause case:


Rahul Gandhi attacks Prime Minister alleging personal corruption

Common Cause petition—Supreme Court keeps suspense alive

Common Cause hearing: Prashant Bhushan stuns the SC bench

Sahara Papers: Shivraj, Raman, Left, Congress leaders also named

Sahara Papers: Common Cause petition still pending before SC

Six undisputed facts around Sahara-Birla papers

BJP ties itself in knots on Sahara papers

BLOG/ Reality Bites: Why Sahara Papers require an inquiry

Indian Express reveals how the Government buried the Sahara Papers

Prashant Bhushan files more documents in SC on Sahara-Birla case

Congress: PM must face probe on alleged ‘Birla-Sahara’ payoffs

BLOG/ Reality Bites: The importance of Sachin Pawar to Sahara

SC dismisses plea for probe into alleged Sahara-Birla payoffs

Setback to campaign against corruption, says Prashant Bhushan

Sahara papers: Congress asks the PM to practise what he preaches

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Published: 09 Jan 2017, 8:56 PM