The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed former union minister Dayanidhi Maran's petition challenging re-opening of his income tax assessment for 2008-09 and 2009-10 by the I-T department based on the CBI charge sheet in the Aircel Maxis deal case.
Justice S M Subramaniam said the petitioner who held the high position of a Union Minister was duty bound to respond to the department's notice to prove his innocence or otherwise.
Maran challenged the I-T department's March 27, 2015 notice issued under Section 148 of the Income Tax Act for re-assessment of his income for 2008-09 and 2009-10 when he was the Telecom Minister.
Noting that he had raised objections to the notice, he also contended that the department had sought to re-open the matter six years after the assessment citing the CBI charge sheet in the Aircel Maxis deal case.
The CBI has charged Maran with forcing Aircel owner C Sivasankaran into parting with his stake in the company to Malaysia's Maxis Communications Bhd when he was the telecom minister.
Maran pointed to his discharge in the case by a CBI court in New Delhi on February 2 last year in support of his plea for quashing the I-T notice.
Dismissing Maran's plea, the Judge said the petition had been filed at the notice stage itself which would hamper all further proceedings of the I-T department and it can never be encouraged by the courts.
Courts cannot interfere in a routine manner in respect of the notice issued under Section 148 the Act, he said adding whenever such allegations are raised against an assessee, who was holding a high position of Union Minister, the I-T department shall be allowed to probe the matter with all fairness and by adopting an intelligent way of investigation.
"It is left open to the petitioner to defend his case in the manner known to law and allow the officials to scrutinise the assessments based on new materials available and thereafter take a decision and pass assessment or reassessment orders by following the procedures contemplated under the I-T Act," he said in his order.
Concurring with the submissions of Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan that the petition cannot be entertained by the high court as remedy was available before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, the Judge said the high court cannot usurp the power of the appellate authorities in respect of the adjudication of the merits and the demerits of the matter.
Complex facts and circumstances were to be adjudicated by producing documents and by adducing evidence by parties concerned. Judicial review against such proceedings was certainly limited, he said.
The Judge also rejected the contention of Maran that notices had also been issued to his brother Kalanithi Maran of Sun group, Sun Direct and some other family members when there was absolutely no evidence of him having any connection with the company run by his brother.
The issuance of notices cannot be found fault with when the department has reason to believe that the transaction warranted further investigation and scrutiny.
The department may receive information from many other sources and on receipt of such materials or information, the authorities may be in a position to reopen the assessment and impose a tax, the Judge said.
This court has no hesitation to conclude that the Assessing Officer has got wider powers in respect of covering the escaped assessments for reopening the assessment. It was for the assessee to convince the officer in respect of all such escaped assessments and submit the returns, he added.
The judge also dismissed similar petitions filed by Sun Direct TV Pvt. Limited, and South Asia FM Limited challenging I-T notices to them.
(With inputs from agencies.)