SC adjourns hearing on pleas by Gandhis, AAP for faceless tax assessment
The Gandhis denied involvement in cases related to fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari and emphasised no searches or seizures in their cases
The Supreme Court on Monday, 9 October, adjourned pleas filed by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and several charitable trusts against the transfer of their tax assessment from faceless assessment to the central circle.
The bench comprising justices Khanna and SNV Bhatti adjourned the hearing as the solicitor general was unavailable. The issue will come up again on Friday, 13 October.
Last week on Tuesday while referring to pleas filed by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra against the transfers, the apex court said the central assessments may be required if there were cross-transactions between individuals.
Senior advocate Arvind Datar, who was appearing for the Gandhi family and trusts associated with them, said that because of a search in fugitive arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari's case, the I-T authorities have tagged all these as supplementary cases because of Robert Vadra, Priyanka Gandhi's husband.
The Gandhis have said they had nothing to do with the Bhandari group’s cases and there has been no instance of search or seizure in their cases.
Bhandari is wanted in India on charges of corruption and money laundering. He has been allegedly linked to Robert Vadra over a London-based flat. Vadra has, however, denied any business dealings with Bhandari.
Justice Khanna also questioned Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the AAP, as to why there was a five-month delay in filing of the writ petitions.
The court also observed that there must be some justification for removing faceless assessment, and the bench was only concerned with the legal issue and not the politics.
Earlier on 26 May, the Delhi High Court had dismissed petitions by the AAP, the Gandhi family, and the five trusts challenging the orders of the I-T department to transfer their tax assessment from faceless assessment to the central circle.
The High Court bench ruled that there was no fundamental legal right to be assessed under the faceless assessment scheme.
The faceless assessment scheme removes physical contact between the taxpayer and the tax collector by using artificial intelligence and machine learning to randomly select tax cases.