The Allahabad High court today dismissed Raghav Bahl’s writ petition challenging the Income Tax department for initiating action against him in a black money case.
The owner of ‘The Quint’ who has been testing rough waters after falling in the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) radar, had filed a writ petition in the Allahabad High court challenging the show-cause notices sent to him and the subsequent actions taken against him by the ED after the federal agency had filed a case against the media baron under PMLA for undeclared foreign assets.
Bahl had submitted before the court that the purchase of the said London property was disclosed in the income tax returns for AY 18-19. Claiming that the I-T Dept had initiated the actions to tarnish his image in public eyes Raghav submitted before the court that he had been denied a personal hearing before the prosecution was initiated against him.
The revenue counsel, however, defended the I-T department’ actions, by arguing that there were contradictions in Bahl’s submissions.
The counsel had submitted that Bhal showed the London property as directly held asset in his Income Tax Return (ITR) for AY 18-19 after the prosecution has been launched under Black Money Act for under-reporting of investment in foreign assets by 2,73,000 British Pounds as well as for not disclosing the foreign bank accounts which were allegedly in the name of Bahl’s minor son.
The Enforcement Case Information Report (ECIR), a police FIR equivalent, was lodged by the federal agency in the month of June after taking cognisance of an Income Tax Department complaint against him and others.
The I-T Department had filed a charge sheet against Bahl before a court in Meerut under the provisions of the anti-black money law or the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act of 2015.
According to the IT department, Bahl has not disclosed his foreign assets, a property bought in London. The economic intelligence agency has sought details from the IT department regarding the offence allegedly committed by Bahl.
Bahl was served a Show-Cause notice on May 1, 2019, seeking information about the property and the source of funds for an investment made in that property.
On October 11, 2018, the IT officials had searched The Quint owner’s premises. Sleuths from the department had raided his residence in Noida to search for documents and other pieces of evidence related to the case.
Raj Kumar Modi, in an admission to the tax officials under oath, had alleged Bahl of using his shell company to launder money and evade tax. Modi is the Managing Director of PMC Fincorp, a shell company, which Bahl had allegedly invested money in.
Modi has reportedly made a statement to IT officials where he claimed that Bahl’s chartered accountant had given him ₹100 crores in cash “to convert into white”.
According to reports, Raghav Bahl and his wife have invested ₹3.03 crore in the penny stock company PMC Fincorp LTD. In spite of the company not indulging in any trade activity, the price of the shares shot up to ₹848/share in the next two years from the initial price of ₹5.50/share when Bahl had bought them. Bahl had then sold his shares following which the share prices appear to have crashed again.
However, in a press release, Bahl had denied the allegations levelled against him. He has asserted that every transaction had been fully disclosed and assessed to tax.
In fact, the entire left-leaning media had then come out in support of Bahl, crying political vendetta.
Bahl had claimed the money invested in the property is from the income on, which taxes have been duly paid. He also claimed the information has consistently been disclosed in the Foreign Asset Schedule of the Income Tax Returns of Raghav Bahl, his wife and children.