On September 3, passersby outside Scindia House at Ballard Estate here will see an unusual satyagraha a fast unto death by an elderly man whom the income-tax department owes money. Whats unusual here apart from the fact that the dues amount to an eye-goggling Rs 25 crore is that the man will be masked.
No, Kunj Bihari Gupta isnt an industrialist or a Bollywood superstar whose refund tots up to such an enormous tally. Hes an income-tax informer, one among a close-knit community of 20 to 25 members who provide insider information to revenue departments like sales, customs and I-T to help them unearth the concealed income of individuals and companies.
And thats the reason his face will be covered he cant risk letting out his identity. Its a dangerous thing to do, no doubt, but the 70-year-old Gupta (obviously not his real name) says he has no choice, disclosing hesitantly that most of his income has been spent on his daughters weddings and paying for his sons alcoholism.
The government owes him his cut for 11 successful raids which earned it crores of rupees. My sources have been threatening to kill me, he says. They refuse to believe that the I-T department has not paid me for cases as old as 15 years.
Gupta believes other informers will support him, as the department never pays heed to their post-raid claims. Indeed, the money owed by the government to the 60-odd informers in India totals a staggering Rs 1,200 crore. There are no written rules, only guidelines, for rewarding them.
Usually, an informer gets 10% of the income recovered from a raid but the money flows only after the tax assessment is complete, which could take six to seven years.
Just Rs 1 lakh is paid immediately if the raid yields Rs 25 lakh or more. There is no deadline for paying the remainder. It drags on and on if the matter enters litigation.