Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram greets the audience during an event. (Source: PTI)

Madras High Court Extends Reprieve To Chidambaram Family 

The Madras High Court on Friday extended an interim order dispensing with the appearance of former Union minister P Chidambaram’s family members before a special court here till Oct. 12 in a case of alleged non-disclosure of foreign assets filed against them by the income tax department.

The bench, comprising Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad, reserved its order on the appeals moved by Chidambaram’s wife, son and daughter-in-law, challenging the prosecution initiated against them by the Income Tax Department under the Black Money Act.

On Aug. 31, the court in an interim order dispensed with the appearance of Chidambaram’s wife Nalini, his son, Karti, and daughter-in-law Srinidhi before the special court for economic offences cases, Egmore till Sept. 14. With the interim order coming to an end on Friday, it was extended up to Oct. 12.

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The issue pertains to alleged non-disclosure of overseas assets and bank accounts held by the trio.

According to the income tax department, the three had failed to disclose a property they jointly own in Cambridge in the U.K., worth Rs 5.37 crore, which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.

The department has also alleged that Karti Chidambaram had failed to disclose an overseas bank account he holds with Metro Bank in the U.K. and investments he had made in Nano Holdings LLC, U.S.

He had also failed to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounts to an offence under the Black Money Act, the department has said in its complaint filed in the special court in May this year.

Assailing the prosecution, the three approached the high court. As a single judge bench refused any relief, they moved an appeal.

On June 27, the first bench headed by then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee reserved its order on the appeal. However, as Justice Banerjee was later elevated to the Supreme Court, orders could not be pronounced.

The appeal was then referred to the bench headed by Justice Manikumar for fresh hearing.

During the hearing by Justice Banerjee, counsel for the appellants had contended that prima facie no offence can be made out against them under the Black Money Act.

The act deals with undisclosed income raised from foreign assets. But in the present case, all the relevant information had been disclosed by the petitioners in their returns filed under the Income Tax Act, the counsel had said.

Also read: Aircel-Maxis Case: Delhi Court Extends Interim Protection From Arrest To Chidambaram, Son