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Tax finger at ex-CJI family

Thiruvananthapuram, June 9: An income-tax inquiry has confirmed charges of unaccounted wealth against the family of former Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan, a Malayalam TV channel reported today.

Documents that Mathrubhumi News claims to have accessed purportedly suggest that Balakrishnan’s daughter K.B. Sony and her husband P.V. Sreenijan held unaccounted wealth for the assessment year 2009-2010. Balakrishnan now heads the National Human Rights Commission.

The department has ordered the duo to cough up Rs 68.83 lakh and Rs 11.15 lakh in additional taxes, respectively, the channel reported.

Sreenijan denied the charges and said he would challenge the tax notice.

According to the news report, the probe has concluded that the duo had received money during this period from Mumbai-based diamond trading firm Rosy Blue.

Sreenijan and Sony, both practising lawyers, have claimed the money was legal fees paid by the firm that they say had hired them as retainers.

According to the channel, the income-tax department rejected this saying that although they were enrolled as retainers, they had not provided any legal services for the payment received. So, it could not qualify as legal fees.

Rosy Blue was in the news six weeks ago when its chairman Harshad Ramniklal Mehta figured among 26 Indians whose name the Centre placed before the Supreme Court, saying they had stashed funds in a bank in Liechtenstein. The government said it had found evidence of tax evasion against them.

Sreenijan said: “The department issued an assessment order in 2013 which I contested. During its pendency, they issued this revision notice which I’m planning to challenge,” he said.

He said Rosy Blue’s payments were meant only to ensure his “availability as and when the company has any legal matter in Kerala”.

“The department itself says I have not provided any service to the company and that tax was deducted at source on the amount paid. So where is the problem?” Sreenijan told The Telegraph.

Asked about the company chairman being named in the black money case, he said: “As a lawyer, I do not have to be bothered about the background of my clients.”