The Supreme Court will take up on December 3 the income tax department's plea that it should get priority over banks and other creditors while using 'Big Bull' Harshad Mehta's attached assets for clearing their dues.
The tax department has challenged a special court's order asking it refund more than Rs 546 crore along with interest at the rate of 9 per cent to the custodian after State Bank of India and Standard Chartered Bank alleged irregularities in assessing Mehta's tax liabilities. Mehta, the kingpin of the 1992 securities scam, allegedly owes Rs 1,743 crore to the tax department for assessment years 1992-1994.
An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishanan ordered status quo till December 3, the next date of hearing, after Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran mentioned the matter.
On an application filed by the two banks, the Special Court, which is hearing offenses related to securities scam, had scaled down the priority tax demand from Rs 1,743 crore to Rs 140 crore on the ground that Mehta's assets and the tax demand were disproportionate.
The custodian had earlier released Rs 686 crore to the tax department in seven tranches subject to an undertaking by the Revenue Secretary that the amount would be paid back along with interest if directed by the special court.
According to the department, it had assessed Mehta's income for 1992-93 and 1993-1994 at Rs 2,014 crore and Rs 1,396 crore respectively, and the assessment for the priority period had resulted in tax demand of Rs 1,743 crore.