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Taxman cites the law on Bachchan

Mumbai/Lucknow, June 13: The income-tax department today refused to confirm or deny if any fresh notices had been sent to Amitabh Bachchan and his family members, but said an “aggrieved” party could always approach the courts of law.

There were reports that the department had despatched a notice to Jaya about a company called Lotus Investments, whose registered address is Prateeksha, the family’s bungalow in Mumbai, and where she was apparently a director between 1984 and 1998.

The reports said the notice had asked Jaya to file tax returns pertaining to this period.

The department would not confirm this. Hari Om Tulsyan, the chief commissioner of income tax, Mumbai, parried a question whether the Bachchans had been served notice to pay tax arrears for Lotus.

“We cannot comment on notices sent to individuals. If there is a notice, it is according to the law, and will have to be complied with.” He denied the family had been singled out for harassment, as alleged by the Samajwadi Party and its leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh.

Amar said charges that his party was sponsoring protests in Amitabh’s favour were untrue. In Allahabad, the actor’s hometown, two of his fans almost recreated a scene from Sholay by climbing atop a water tower to protest against the alleged tax harassment.

Sushil Gaekwad and Ishu Sonkar, both claiming to be students of CMP Degree College, began shouting that they would jump if the tax department did not stop “harassing” Amitabh.

Tulsyan denied allegations of harassment. “If a notice is due, it will be sent, and if anyone is aggrieved by it, they are absolutely free to approach the court of law. We are only answerable to the courts of this country,” he said.

The issue, though it’s not even clear what notices have been sent, has quickly acquired political dimensions because of the history of relations between Amitabh and the Nehru-Gandhi family. Once close, he has apparently fallen out with Sonia Gandhi.

Amar, who’s very close to the Bachchans, alleged that the tax authorities had issued “repeated notices to him (Amitabh) at regular intervals”. The department has also reopened a 12-year-old case to harass Amitabh, he alleged.

“Is it justified to ask Amitabh whether he is an artiste when the whole world knows that'” Amar asked.

The tax department recently decided not to allow tax cuts available to artistes for Amitabh’s income from hosting a TV show. Unconfirmed reports suggested 12 fresh notices had been issued to Jaya in relation to Lotus.

Such reports have in the past proved to be wrong. Last week, Tulsyan had denied a report claiming that the department had sent a notice to Amitabh asking him to explain the purchase of a pair of sunglasses (allegedly costing Rs 2.70 lakh) he wears in his forthcoming film, Zamaanat.

Even Amar agrees it’s not true.

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