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IT notice: No relief to hospitality firm linked to Vadra, top court rejects plea

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to grant relief to a hospitality firm linked to Robert Vadra, rejecting its plea challenging an Income Tax notice to it for re-assessment of its profits from land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan for 2010-11.
The apex court rejected the appeal filed by Delhi-based firm, Sky Light Hospitality LLP, which has challenged the Delhi High Court's February order dismissing its plea against the I-T notice.
"Sorry. Dismissed," a bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan said while refusing to interfere with the high court verdict.
The high court had also asked the firm associated with Vadra, the son-in-law of former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, to join the proceedings before the assessing officer.
During the hearing, the apex court did not agree with the contention of the company's lawyer that the notice was sent by the IT department to wrong entity -- Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd -- instead of Sky Light Hospitality LLP.
"They (I-T) have to issue notice to the right person," the counsel argued, adding, "they issued notice to a company which did not exist".
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for I-T department, opposed the submissions and said that when "reasons to believe" were recorded by the concerned
official, it was recorded that
the company's earlier name was Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd which was later renamed as Sky Light Hospitality LLP.
The I-T department, in a tax evasion report tabled earlier before the high court, had said it had reasons to believe that over Rs 35 crore, earned by the firm in 2010-11, "had escaped from assessment".
In its verdict, the high court had said, "After going through the reasons, we are satisfied that the 'reasons to believe' show and establish a live link and connect with the inference drawn that income had escaped assessment, which is required for issuance of notice."
The firm had challenged the I-T department's notice in the high court contending
that the "reasons to believe" were mere reasons to suspect and did not establish that income had escaped assessment.
However, the high court had disagreed with the firm's contention and said that "absolute certainty is not required at the time of issue of notice and at the same time, 'reasons to believe' must not be based on mere suspicion, gossip or rumour. The said test and criteria, we have no hesitation in holding, is satisfied in the present case".
"There is evidence and material on record to justify issue of notice," it had said.
The division bench of the high court had also rejected the firm's plea that IT department had sent the notice to the wrong entity, Sky Light Hospitality Pvt Ltd, instead of Sky Light Hospitality LLP, saying "there was no doubt and debate that the notice was meant for the petitioner (firm) and no one else".
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