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As relations with Congress sour, I-T case back to haunt Mayawati
April, 03rd 2008

The disproportionate asset case has returned to haunt Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati. The government has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court challenging the clean chit given by the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal to the BSP chief in the case.

The timing of the petition is significant as it comes in the wake of worsening relations between the Congress and the BSP. The ITAT had earlier bought hook, line and sinker Mayawatis argument that her large assets were donations from well wishers.

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday sought a response from the UP chief minister by September 19 on the petition filed by the Centre. The Centre has alleged in its petition that the UP chief minister attempted to evade payment of taxes by showing ``sham transactions in the assessment year 2003-04 and that the Income Tax Appellate made a mistake in accepting the BSP chiefs explanation on the source of her income. ``Assessing officer had clearly shown that purchases as well as gift transactions were sham transactions which had been performed only with the intent to evade payment of tax, the Centre said in its petition.

The ITAT, in an extraordinary order of November 30 had accepted Ms Mayawatis explanations and legitimised Rs 65 lakhs worth of property and cash as gifts made out of ``love and affection that could not be taxed. One may be impelled by his conscience or may be moved by emotions to part with his wealth or property and to give the same to a particular person for whom he has developed love and affection. Such a desire can be developed at any time and on any ground. The factors which weigh for executing such desire are best known to the donor. It is not easy to make probe into such human psychology or human emotions which one may carry at the time of making such sacrifices, the ITAT order had said.

This order had invited severe criticism from Mayawatis political rivals who had accused the government of helping Ms Mayawati in getting relief in the disproportionate assets case.

But now the Centre has submitted in its petition that the tribunal made a mistake in accepting Ms Mayawatis explanation and that the cash and property presented to the BSP leader should be taken as part of her annual taxable income. The Tribunal wrongly came to the conclusion...the fact that gifts were given out of natural love of donors was unquestioned, the Centre said in its petition. Mayawati had contended that immovable property worth Rs 62.72 lakh and cash payments of Rs two lakh were gifts to her by her supporters.

The Centre has alleged that the tribunal did not take into consideration all the material placed before it by the IT department. ``The Tribunal ignored essential relevant material and has consequently misdirected itself in law in dismissing the IT department appeal, the government said, adding that the tribunal has erred in law in holding that validity of gifts has been proved.

This fresh notice on the DA case is bound to be trouble for Ms Mayawati. Another disproportionate assets case, registered in 2003, is still pending with the Central Bureau of Investigation. The CBI has faced continued criticism for going slow in the case due to political consideration. The agency is yet to file a chargesheet in the case. But that could change with the change in the political climate.

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