National Herald: HC today to hear Rahul, Sonia Gandhi’s petition challenging reopening of tax assessment

On 8th August 2018, Rahul Gandhi had challenged Income Tax authority’s order to reopen his tax assessment related to the National Herald and Young Indian transactions. The tax authorities had told the High Court that informed the High Court that the AICC gave Rs 99 crores to Associate Journal Ltd and added that Rahul willfully chose not to disclose that he held the director’s post at Young India. Rahul Gandhi had also requested the HC to impose a media gag in the National Herald case. The court, however, had refused to grant any interim relief to Rahul Gandhi. The court had said that it will establish whether Rahul Gandhi was obligated to disclose his directorship.

The additional solicitor general (ASG) Tushar Mehta had objected to any interim order being passed regarding Rahul Gandhi’s petition and the High Court had set the date of hearing in Rahul’s case as today, 14th August.

A similar petition now has been moved by Sonia Gandhi and Oscar Fernandes. Sonia Gandhi and Fernandes have filed separate petitions challenging the reopening of their assessments by the Income-tax Department regarding the Young Indian-National Herald transactions and the petition is to be heard today.

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The plea is listed for hearing before a bench of Justice S Ravindra Bhat and Justice A K Chawla. The same bench had on August 8 refused to grant interim relief to Rahul and had posted his petition for Tuesday.

As per the tax department, the shares Gandhi has in Young Indian would lead him to have an income of Rs 154 crore and not about Rs 68 lakh, as was assessed by it earlier and it had applied section 147 of the Income Tax Act, which provides for bringing under the tax net any income which has escaped assessment in the original assessment.

Sonia, Rahul, Young Indian (YI) and others were earlier summoned as accused by a trial court in the National Herald misappropriation of assets case. The crux of the case lies in the fact that the Indian National Congress/All India Congress Committee (AICC) had over the years advanced a loan of 90 crore rupees to Associated Journals Limited (AJL), which published its mouthpiece, the National Herald. These loans were later sold cheap for just 50 lakhs rupees and were used to give a 99% stake in AJL to the Gandhis, via the company Young Indian (YI), thus transferring the ownership of valuable assets owned by AJL to YI.

Earlier too, we had earlier covered how the Gandhis had tried to thwart the Income Tax’ investigation into the National Herald case. Congress had also earlier reportedly threatened tax officials with legal consequences for asking “irrelevant questions” during their investigations.

As the investigation proceeds, the Gandhi’s seem to be getting jittery and now it remains to be seen whether the High Court will grant relief to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, or would Income Tax get to reopen their tax assessment case.

 


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