Former Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party leader Oscar Fernandes on Monday challenged in the Delhi High Court the reopening of their tax assessments in a case related to the transactions between National Herald and Young Indian Private Limited, reported PTI. The two leaders filed separate pleas, which are listed for hearing along with Rahul Gandhi’s plea on Tuesday before a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and AK Chawla.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi had challenged the reopening of his tax assessment for 2011-’12 by the Income Tax Department in March, and the court on August 8 had refused to grant him interim relief. It had also refused to restrain the media from publishing the matter. Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had told court that the tax department would not take any coercive action against Gandhi till the next hearing.
Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi are major stakeholders in Young Indian, a private company limited by guarantee, which the Congress has said is a not-for-profit organisation. The other accused include Fernandes, Motilal Vora, Suman Dubey and Sam Pitroda – all of who have denied the allegations against them.
According to the Income Tax Department, the All India Congress Committee gave Rs 99 crore to Associated Journals Limited, the publisher of three newspapers including the National Herald. Gandhi chose not to disclose that he held the director’s post at the Young Indian. Gandhi’s shares in Young Indian would bring him an income of Rs 154 crore, not Rs 68 lakh as assessed earlier, said the department. Gandhi’s lawyer contended said that since he did not receive any income from the source, he was not liable to pay tax.
In March, Young Indian had asked the court to stay the recovery of Rs 249.1 crore in tax and interest after an earlier notice issued by the tax department for 2011-2012. The company contended that it is a charitable firm and does not have any income. On March 19, the court ordered the Young Indian to pay Rs 10 crore.
In a private criminal complaint, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy had accused the two Congress leaders of conspiracy and cheating with the aim to acquire properties and assets owned by the National Herald. Swamy said they had provided an interest-free loan of Rs 90.25 crore to Associated Journals Limited and transferred the debt to Young Indian Limited for Rs 50 lakh.