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Supreme Court Issues Notice To Income Tax Dept In 2018 Tax Evasion Case Against Karti Chidambaram & Wife

Mehal Jain
16 Nov 2020 12:28 PM GMT
Supreme Court Issues Notice To Income Tax Dept In 2018 Tax Evasion Case Against Karti Chidambaram & Wife
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The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Income Tax Department in the 2018 tax evasion case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram & his wife. The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy were hearing the SLP against the May 12 judgment of the Madras High Court, dismissing the petitions filed by Chidambaram and his wife Srinidhi to quash two criminal complaints...

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The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Income Tax Department in the 2018 tax evasion case against Congress MP Karti Chidambaram & his wife. 

The bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy were hearing the SLP against the May 12 judgment of the Madras High Court, dismissing the petitions filed by Chidambaram and his wife Srinidhi to quash two criminal complaints under the Income Tax Act and the trial proceedings in respect of them in the Special Courts for MPs/MLAs.

"The prosecution is under sections 276C and 277 of the Income Tax Act which are non-cognizable offences. These can be heard by only by a special court, but no court had come to be so designated when the complaint was filed. The law is that if there is no special court on the date of filing complaint, which is September 12, 2018 in this case, the court before which the case was will continue to hear the matter. A new court could not have been brought in in 2019?", argued Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal for the petitioners.

"The findings of the High Court are in my favour. But this pick and choose of accused and sending them to special courts is discriminatory", he pressed.

"The order for a designated court must have been in pursuance of this court's decision on special courts (by a five-judge bench in Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay in 2018 for special courts to try cases against MPs/MLAs)", observed the bench.

Finally, the bench issued notice to the IT Department, also requiring copies of the petitions to be served on the office of SG Tushar Mehta.

In the impugned judgment, Justice M. Sundar of the Madras High Court had observed that the issues raised in the criminal complaints are matters for trial and no ground has been made out for quashing the same.

The judgment elaborately dealt with the plea challenging transfer of two criminal cases from EO court to Sessions Court. The Court dealt with the contention that transferee court does not have original jurisdiction, that only one of the petitioners has become M.P, that he was also neither a sitting nor former M.P/M.L.A on the date of complaint and that petitioners have been deprived of one tier of remedy by transfer from EO Court to Sessions Court. In this regard, the judge observed:

With regard to standing trial in a Magistrate Court and standing trial in a Sessions Court, the lone difference projected before this Court pertains to further revision under section 397 Cr.P.C post appeal against conviction, if that be so. As the law is clear that revision is not a right unlike an appeal, this lone difference being canvassed as a ground by petitioners gets obliterated. The result is, in the cases on hand, as far as petitioners are concerned, there is no difference in standing trial in a Magistrate Court and standing trial in Sessions Court.

The court also said that no prejudice has been demonstrated by Karti and his wife owing to being asked to stand trial in a Sessions Court.

The Court observed that the Government should have designated more Metropolitan Magistrate Courts in Chennai, if the already designated II Metropolitan Magistrate Court is overburdened. The Court, thus, suggested the Government to designate one or more Metropolitan Magistrate/s in Chennai for trying criminal cases related to elected M.Ps/M.L.As, in accordance with the directives of Supreme Court in Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay case.

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