Millennium Post

IT department’s public disgrace

The clandestine visit of two senior Indian Revenue Service officers to meet Lalit Modi, as exposed by this newspaper, is entirely disgraceful. It is well-known that Modi is under investigation by the very department that is headed by these officials. Any dealings between these officials and Modi have to be in the context of the case instituted against Modi by the income-tax depatment more than one and a half years ago. This investigation relates to a case of tax evasion and money laundering of an amount of 700 crores. This is large amount of money, and, if the case is proved, would amount to swindling the public exchequer out of a huge amount due to it. Modi is thus a culprit under investigation. Yet these two senior revenue officials flew all the way to London, where Modi is holed up, to confabulate with him in the company of a former member of the Central Board of Direct Taxes, who was acting as Modi’s advisor. There is no question of a private or personal visit. These officials did not fly to London to interrogate Modi or to record his statement, for this was neither permissible by the law in existence at the time of this visit and nor does it require officers of this seniority to perform this work. It does not require rocket science to divine what these officers were upto on a visit that they have described as personal though it was paid out of the secret funds of their department. Very probably they were secretly wheeling and dealing with Modi.

It is not surprising that almost immediately after this meeting an amount of pounds eight lakhs was transferred from a bank account in London to another foreign bank account. The significance of this transaction can only be explained by further investigation.  It is, however, clear that it is no part of the official duties of income tax department officials to be hobnobbing with the accused in a case. There are far too many cases of high profile persons and of the rich and the powerful who have got preferential treatment because of their financial or other clout or their expertise in manipulating the law. This is not permissible by law and should not happen at all. All are equal in the eyes of the law which must be implemented strictly. The entire matter should be throughly investigated and made public for the public has a right to know what these two officials were up to. If the two officials are found to be guilty then they should be strictly punished as should Modi for attempting to influence officials of the income tax department.
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