The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice in petitions by Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra against the transfer of their income tax assessment to the central circle.
The transfer for assessment year 2018-2019 was done by the Income Tax Department for a “coordinated investigation” with the arms dealer, Sanjay Bhandari’s group of companies.
Response from the Income Tax Department was sought by a Division Bench of Justices Rajiv Shakdher and Talwant Singh.
Appearing for the Gandhis (petitioners), Senior Advocate Arvind Datar argued that since the cases of the petitioners were non-search cases, they could not be transferred to the central circle.
He further contended that cases that are intimately connected with a parent search case could be transferred to the central circle for a coordinated investigation. However, this was not the case in the present instance.
“The impugned order says Sanjay Bhandari group of cases. At least say what is the nature of connection to warrant the transfer.”
Appearing for the IT Department, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta opposed grant of any interim relief in the petitions as no proceedings were pending against the Gandhis as of now.
SG Mehta defended the transfer on the ground that the same was done within the city under Section 127(2) & (3) of the Income Tax Act, which did not contemplate any hearing to be given to the assessees.
“Assessment under one circle or the other is neither fundamental nor statutory right of the assessee. Right to fair assessment is a statutory right,” Mehta argued.
He also stated that the central circle was for non-search cases also.
“(there is no) embargo on sending non-search cases to the unit.. Bhandari may have done something..it is only recorded that it would be in better coordination if all cases are taken up simultaneously,” he added.
Mehta also submitted that the transfer did not cause any prejudice to the assessees.
The matter would be heard next on April 6.