The Income Tax department has started a “nation-wide survey” against petrol pump owners and LPG dealers after they allegedly deposited more cash than actual sales after demonetisation last year, The Indian Express reported. Tax officials are investigating if the sales reported are in accordance with the deposits made during the period when use of the banned Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes was allowed at petrol pumps till December 3.

Any excesses are being registered as illegal and fuel dealers have been directed to issue cheques for the same amount to the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana with tax and a 49.90% penalty, the English daily reported. This is the case even if the operator concerned claimed the excesses were outstanding debts received during the demonetisation drive.

The department’s officials told the publication that “nation-wide surveys”, not raids, were being conducted at fuel operators’ business premises since March 6. “The surveys so far have shown that on an average, pump owners deposited in excess of 15% of the sales collections,” said an IT commissioner. He said the department had asked oil manufacturing companies for more details on the matter.

A department survey in February has found that fuel dealers deposited 20% more cash than actual sales between November 8 (when the notes were made illegal) until December 2, the English daily reported.

Fuel stations were permitted to accept the demonetised notes till December 2, while LPG dealers were allowed to accept the banned notes beyond that date. On November 8, 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the demonetisation of the high currency notes and said it would crack down on black money and corruption in the country. The move has been widely criticised by the Opposition.