Patna, May 6: Rashtriya Janata Dal president Laloo Prasad Yadav and Bihar chief minister Rabri Devi have got some reprieve from the income-tax department at last.
Bihar’s first couple, who had been facing the heat over daughter Misa’s lavish wedding, can now breathe easy following the tax department’s declaration that the expenses incurred during the ceremony were not disproportionate to their income and no cases would be constituted on this ground.
“We are completely satisfied with the claim of Laloo and Rabri that only Rs 8 lakh had been spent on the marriage of their eldest daughter after assessment for the financial year 2000-2001,” Ashutosh Singh Thakur, director (investigation), income-tax, said.
Thakur said he had relied on inquiry officer Madhukar Kumar Bhagat’s order on the couple’s tax returns for the assessment year 2000-2001 that “no evidence to corroborate allegations pertaining to extravagant expenses on hospitality, catering and other arrangements in the marriage have been found”.
Misa’s wedding, held on December 10, 1999, came to be known in Patna as a “shahi shadi” (royal marriage).
The ceremony also attracted criticism from politicians across the country, who said Laloo Prasad’s image as a Dalit messiah did not match this extravagance.
The investigation wing of the income-tax department, which claimed to have captured the occasion on video, ordered an inquiry into the expenses. Notices were issued to Laloo Prasad, Rabri Devi and Misa’s father-in-law Ram Babu Pathik five days after the wedding, seeking details of the expenditure.
According to insiders in the tax department, the RJD chief and his wife told the income-tax officers that they had spent around Rs 3 to 4 lakh from their pocket while the rest of the expenses were borne by party activists.
Apart from this, the newly-weds were showered with gifts by guests and party workers.
However, the income-tax department said the couple had spent Rs 7 lakh. Rs 3 lakh was treated as part of the RJD chief’s income while around Rs 4 lakh was attributed to the chief minister.