Millennium Post

Anglo India Jute Mill takeover: Rs 16 cr stamp duty evasion?

At a time when jute is considered a sunset sector, the age old Anglo India Jute Mill run by the Wadhwas had suddenly changed hands under alleged mysterious conditions.  P&A distilleries, a company incorporated on February 19, 2016 by the Kolkata-based Poddars took over Anglo India Jute on May 14, 2016 at an estimated investment of Rs 17.29 crore.

Of it, around Rs 16 crore was spent on purchase of property and another Rs 1.12 crore and Rs 17.60 lakh was paid as stamp duty and registration fee.

Originally a BIFR company, Anglo India was later revived by A I Champdany belonging to the Wadhwas. For a long time, the mill was facing industrial trouble and had thrice changed names. The Wadhwas were looking for buyers to sell the mill.

At the time of takeover, Anglo India was already christened as AI Champdany. Anglo India has 4,000 workers and is located on over 34 acre of prime land along the banks of Hooghly at Jagaddal in North 24 Parganas.

However, as per government and local municipality records available with Millennium Post during the takeover of Anglo India Jute, its property value, stamp duty and registration fee was drastically lowered by allegedly suppressing facts.

As per the Deed of Conveyance of May 4, 2016, the approach road to the mill has been shown as one foot (12 inches) wide. This is humanly impossible. There are nine such approaches surrounding the mill.

The Anglo India property of 34.386 acres was also shown encumbered and tenant occupied the reality being the reverse. A visit to the spot showed that the land was neither wholly occupied nor wholly tenanted.

Apart from this, manual assessments have been made disabling E- assessments and same market value has been fixed for different size of lands.

According to government records the price of 0.02 acre is similar to the price of 7.99 acre. Both are priced at Rs 18.64 lac. The structure shown for the entire property is only 18,900 square feet whereas the covered area of the mill is more than 3 lac sq.ft. 

In the Deed there is also no mention of List of Machinery purchased for the mill although a figure of Rs 42.55 crore has been provided for as Gross Capital Investment.    

As per the Deed of Conveyance the set forth value of the property was fixed at Rs 16.29 crore and a total market value of Rs 207.37 crore. 

On it, the schedule stamp duty and registration fee payable to the West Bengal government was Rs 14.51 crore and Rs 2.28 crore respectively. 

However, it is revealed from the Common Application Form and documents gathered from the District Sub-Registrar’s office that at the time of takeover, P&A Distilleries actually paid Rs 1.12 crore as Stamp Duty and a Registration Fee of only Rs 17.60 Lac instead of Rs 14.51 crore and Rs 2.28 crore. 

In this way, P & A Distilleries allegedly evaded Rs 13.39 crore of Stamp Duty and a Registration Fee of Rs 2.10 crore.  Documents gathered from the Office of the Dy Sub Registrar - 1, North 24 Parganas show that the certification to the take-over was also assessed and based on the plot wise market value of the property which is an exception to the normal procedure adopted for such assessments by the government. 

As per the Deed of Conveyance of May 4, 2016 and Common Application Form, the conditions were created only to avoid states taxes like stamp duty and registration fee during the takeover. 

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