No tax evasion angle to probe in Niira Radia tapes: I-T to SC

Niira-Radia-01

New Delhi, Feb 23: The Income Tax department, on directions of the Supreme Court in connection with the 2G spectrum allocation case, has found no instance of tax evasion after going through the entire range of intercepted conversations of corporate lobbyist Niira Radia.

The department, according to sources, has placed a detailed report stating these facts to the apex court recently which is expected to take up the case in its hearing on the issue next month.

The sources said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) had formed a special team of the I-T department to probe all the angles of any tax violation with regard to the tapped conversations, as directed by the SC, but the authorities did not find any material, instance or evidence to initiate a probe under tax laws.

However, a final decision on these findings would only be taken by the top court once it goes through the report submitted by the department, the sources said. The department, they said, had already initiated legal proceedings in the tax evasion cases emerging out of this case earlier and the court later asked the taxman to go through all the conversations for possible action at their end.

The apex court bench, headed by Justice G S Singhvi, had ordered CBI and the I-T department to probe certain issues that were identified by CBI after going through the transcript of the Radia tapes.

The court had also referred one of the matters to the Chief Vigilance Officer of the Department of Mines for investigation and another to the Chief Justice of India.

“Radia’s conversations reveal deep-rooted malice by private enterprises in connivance with government officials for extraneous purposes,” the Supreme Court had said. Using strong words, the court had said the telephonic conversations suggest corrupt means being adopted by private parties to extract gains.

The conversations were recorded by the I-T department as part of surveillance of Radia’s phone on a complaint to the Finance Minister on November 16, 2007, alleging that within a span of nine years she had built up a business empire worth Rs 300 crore.

The department had recorded 180 days of Radia’s conversations — first from August 20, 2008 onwards for 60 days and then from October 19 for another 60 days.

Later, on May 11, 2009, her phone was again put on surveillance for another 60 days following a fresh order given on May 8. PTI