More trouble with tax files

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By R.VENKATARAMAN in Delhi
  • Published 22.02.05
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New Delhi, Feb. 22: The Supreme Court today ordered the submission of all the files in an income-tax case against Laloo Prasad Yadav and Rabri Devi, adding to their troubles over a tough electoral battle in home state Bihar.

The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) had late last year given the political couple a clean chit in the 2002 case, allegedly through Laloo Prasad?s ?political manipulations?. The income-tax department had sought Rs 40 lakh in I-T dues from the couple, which they had contested.

The bench of Justices S.N. Variava, A.R. Lakshmanan and S.H. Kapadia also told the CBI director to submit the bureau?s related affidavit of July 20, 2004, seeking change of the public prosecutor in the fodder scam cases against the Union railway minister and Bihar chief minister.

All documents relating to the appointment of Oma Shankar Sharma as public prosecutor were also ordered to be produced. Sharma, previously a legal adviser to Delhi police, was appointed to create ?favourable conditions? for Laloo Prasad and Rabri, alleged a petition by Rajiv Ranjan Singh Lalan, a Janata Dal (United) leader from Bihar.

He sought action against the railway minister for ?manipulating? his position at the Centre to get a favourable order in the income-tax case so as to get a ?clean chit? in the ?unaccounted wealth case? and ?water down? the fodder scam case ? all related cases.

Lalan alleged that Laloo Prasad flew in ITAT?s new acting chairman, P. Mohan, to Patna from Delhi and ?overnight? the case was heard only to give the minister a clean chit.

The bench directed the ITAT president to submit to the court all documents relating to the constitution of the income-tax tribunal bench, comprising Mohan and M.K. Sarkar, in Patna to decide the case.

The ITAT official was also directed to inform the court whether Mohan and Sarkar had passed any order in any income-tax case other than Laloo Prasad-Rabri Devi?s ?hurriedly? taken-up case.

The CBI was directed to place on record how and why the long-standing public prosecutor in the Rs 900-crore fodder scam cases in Patna and Ranchi was replaced.

Lalan?s senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi said the ?prosecutor in the fodder-scam case was supplanted at the instance of a very important accused who is part of the UPA government?.

The bench also sought details on the earlier income-tax tribunal member, R.K. Tyagi, who was sent out on deputation.

As Tyagi was viewed as an upright person, he ?was sent on deputation and Mohan and Sarkar were posted to get the clean-chit order favourable to Laloo-Rabri,? the petitioner told the court.

Lalan?s PIL, joined by BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi, also sought the cancellation of bail to Laloo Prasad in the fodder scam case for allegedly interfering in it and the disproportionate assets case.