SC fixes Apr 23 for final hearing of I-T case against Sonia, Rahul
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said it will hear from April 23 the final arguments on an appeal filed by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia against the Delhi high court order allowing re-assessment of their Income Tax for 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case.
The Gandhis sought adjournment of the hearing which was opposed by the Income Tax Department (ITD) saying the issue requires detailed hearing.
A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said it is listing the matter for final disposal on April 23. Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the Gandhis said that the issue has various aspects which would require considerable time, therefore an adjournment should be granted.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for ITD, opposed the suggestion and said the issue would not require much time as it has already been argued at length in the high court.
The bench then listed the matter for detailed hearing on April 23. On January 8, ITD had informed the apex court that an assessment order (AO) with respect to the tax of Rahul and Sonia for 2011-12 in connection with the National Herald case has been passed but has not been given effect.
The top court had allowed the AO, passed on December 31, 2018 raising the tax demand from them and others, to be placed on record after the ITD insisted on it but said that it would not form any opinion on the merits of the case on its basis. It had asked Sonia and Rahul to file an affidavit and place on record in four weeks a CBDT circular which was issued on December 31, 2018 to clarify about taxes on valuations, but was recalled on January 4. The court asked the I-T department to file its reply to the affidavit and the circular to be filed by the Congress leaders within a week thereafter.
The tax matter is related to the National Herald case in which other the Congress leaders are also facing criminal proceedings. The Gandhis argued that CBDT had on December 31 issued a circular clarifying applicability of section 56(2)(viia) of the I-T Act for issue of shares by a company.
"This circular December 31, 2018, clarified the point of receive of share. However, interestingly four days later, the CBDT withdrew the circular saying the matter is sub-judice", they had said. They had contended that as per the CBDT circular of December 31, 2018, fresh issuance of shares are not taxable. On December 4, last year the apex court had allowed ITD to re-assess the tax of the top Congress leaders. It had however, restrained the department from "giving effect" to its order.
The Gandhis and senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes have challenged the Delhi High Court's September 10 verdict which dismissed their plea against the re-assessment of their tax for 2011-12.
The apex court had not issued formal notice on the petitions filed by Rahul, Sonia and Fernandes as the I-T department was represented by its counsel. The I-T probe against the Congress leaders has arisen from the investigation into a private criminal complaint filed by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy before a trial court here in connection with the National Herald case, in which the trio is out on bail.
Sonia and Rahul were granted bail in the case by the trial court on December 19, 2015. A tax evasion petition (TEP) was also addressed to the finance minister by Swamy.
In the complaint before the trial court, Sonia, Rahul and others have been accused of conspiring to cheat and misappropriate funds by paying just Rs 50 lakh, through which Young Indian (YI) had obtained the right to recover Rs 90.25 crore that Associated Journals Ltd (AJL) owed to the Congress party.