Indian Express reveals how the Government buried the Sahara Papers

Sahara papers had named then Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and over 100 leaders from several parties including Congress, Left. But the Income Tax Settlement Commission has ‘settled’ the case and buried it

Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Virendra Singh Gosain/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

The Government’s claims and credibility on fighting black money, The Indian Express revealed this morning, received a serious jolt on November 10, barely two days after the Prime Minister’s historic announcement scrapping 86% of the currency in circulation. That was the day when the Income Tax Settlement Commission hurriedly passed a final order in the ‘Sahara papers’ on which the opposition has been demanding an inquiry and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has been asking the PM to reply to corruption charges.


Curiously a petition was filed before the Supreme Court on November 15 by the NGO Common Cause seeking a court-monitored inquiry by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) to prevent the ITSC from absolving Sahara. The apex court has listed the case for final hearing on January 11. But The Indian Express report now reveals that the Government had already absolved the Group—a fact which was neither disclosed to the court nor in Parliament or public.


Significantly,

  • The Income Tax Settlement Commission admits that it had earlier rejected the application of the company
  • It also states that the application was re-admitted on September 5, 2016
  • This is one of the speediest disposals by the Commission, which normally takes 12-18 months to decide on applications
  • There were just three hearings before the Commission accepted the Group’s contention and came out with its final order on November 10
  • The Commission also went against the department’s Investigation wing which wanted to add Rs 2,700 crore to Sahara’s unaccounted income
  • But the Commission says reconciliation was carried out and a sum of Rs 1,217 crore was agreed as Sahara’s unaccounted income
  • The Commission, thereafter, fixed Sahara’s tax liability at Rs 137 crore and allowed the company to pay it in 12 instalments in view of the difficulties it has been going through
Curiously a petition was filed before the Supreme Court on November 15 by the NGO Common Cause seeking a court-monitored inquiry by a Special Investigating Team to prevent the ITSC from absolving Sahara. The apex court has listed the case for final hearing on January 11. But the Indian Express report now reveals that the Government had already absolved the Group—a fact which was neither disclosed to the court nor in Parliament or public


Far more importantly, the Commission accepted the company’s contention that the papers seized from its premises in November, 2014 during Income Tax raids were “dumb papers” with no evidentiary value.


“An employee and a friend of his got together to implicate and malign the image of another employee who was the head of the department of the office of the Sahara Group…the duo thought they were being ill-treated by him and he made them work for long and odd hours which in turn was affecting their family life and for various other personal reasons…”, the company pleaded before the Commission which accepted it.


The Indian Express report can be read here.


Ed: Hyperlink added at 10.25 am.

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: 5 Jan 2017, 10:17 AM
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