No coercive action against Cong: IT to SC

In a relief for the Congress, the Income Tax department on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will not take any coercive action against the opposition party for tax demand notices of Rs 3500 crore approximately in view of Lok Sabha elections.
A bench of Justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih recorded the statement of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the IT department, that no precipitative action will be taken in the prevailing circumstances till the final adjudication of the matter.
“At the commencement of the hearing on this application, the solicitor general appearing for the respondent department, submitted that there is no dispute that on several dates in the month of March 2024, demands have been raised as against the appellant herein totalling approximately Rs 3500 crore,” the bench noted.
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It further recorded, “It is further submitted (by SG Tushar Mehta) that issues which arise in these appeals are yet to be adjudicated upon but having regard to the situations now, the department does not wish to precipitate the matter as much as no coercive steps shall be taken by the respondent department with regard to the aforesaid demand of Rs 3500 crore approximately.”
The bench posted the Congress’ plea against different tax demand notices for hearing on July 24, 2024.
Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Congress party, appreciated the gesture terming it “gracious” and said that all demand notices were issued in February and March for different years totalling Rs 3500 crore approximately.
“I am very rarely rendered speechless. By my learned friend’s intervention, I have been rendered speechless. Kindly have it in July,” he said.
At the outset, Mehta said, “To balance the equity. The petitioner is a political party. Based upon the 2016 judgement, which is under challenge, we have raised the demand of Rs 1700 crore. Since the election is going on, we would not like any problem to arise for any party and therefore, till the matter is heard after the election, we will not take any action for recovery of Rs 1700 crore.”
He said that the impugned judgement of the Delhi high court is of March 23, 2016, and based upon the parameters set by it, a tax demand was raised against the party in 2021.
“They were given an option to pay 20 per cent of that demand but they did not avail. Thereafter, nothing was paid. Therefore in 2024, we recovered Rs. 135 crore of 2021 demand and based upon the same parameters, now we have issued a demand of Rs 1700 crore approximately,” Mehta submitted.
He added that the I-T department has a lot to say on the merit of the issue and they would like to file a reply to the main petition filed against the high court’s verdict.
Justice Nagarathna asked Mehta whether the demand notices were the subject matter of the petition.
Mehta replied, “No, that is not the subject matter of the petition.”(PTI)