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14 held for evading VAT, duping sales tax department
July, 11th 2012

The Crime branch on Tuesday arrested 14 persons in connection with the alleged involvement in violation of the provisions of Maharashtra Valued Added Tax (VAT) Act 2002 and duping the state sales tax department of several lakhs of rupees. They were later produced before a court which sent them to police custody till July 12. However, the police had sought a 10-day custody for them.

Five more persons are to be arrested in the case.

Sources in the police department said that the alleged mastermind, Govindsingh Banafar, already arrested and bailed out on an earlier occasion , procured coals from different regions and sold it to a Lakadganj-based private marketing company. He, most of the time, would create bogus documents to show the transactions but there would be no real deals.

Police said that Banafar would claim set-off facilities from the sales tax department and would often skip the VAT payment. Apart from Banafar, other accomplices also did the same to avoid VAT payment and try to draw benefits of set-off facilities.

Sales tax department had earlier asked the Crime branch to probe the fraudulent transactions of the coal traders. Offences of cheating and criminal conspiracy were registered at Lakadganj police station. Charges under relevant provisions of the Maharashtra VAT Act were also slapped against the traders.

This followed by a long legal duel between the police department and accused who tried to quash the First Information Report (FIR) and procure anticipatory bails from different courts. In the meantime, Banafar was nabbed. Banafar's defense counsel Lubesh Meshram said that his client got bail after he highlighted a change of circumstances before the court.

Recently, the high court had ordered the 14 accused to surrender before the police department before taking the advantage of bail. The accused were produced before the court of judicial magistrate first class DR Deshmukh who allowed police custody till July 12 later this week. The crime branch has sought a 10-day custody for searches and detailed investigations.

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