Supreme Court To Set Aside Order Restraining Income Tax Proceedings Against Gautam Khaitan
The Supreme Court said on Wednesday it would “prima facie” set aside the Delhi High Court order restraining the Income Tax Department from taking any action against VVIP chopper scam accused Gautam Khaitan, against whom a separate black money case has been lodged.
While reserving its order, the apex court said it would favour that proceedings against Khaitan go on as per the law.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and BR Gavai reserved the order on the Centre’s appeal against the high court’s May 16 order which had also said that the 2016 black money law cannot be allowed to operate with retrospective effect from July 2015.
“We will give our prima facie opinion. We will set aside the order. We will say that proceedings will go on,” the bench observed.
During the hearing, the bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, as to how a penal law could operate with retrospective effect and observed that this is “purely a question of law”.
Mehta, while referring to provisions of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015, said that the offence alleged against Khaitan is “a continuing offence”.
He said though the government had given a one-time window to the people for voluntary disclosure of their foreign income and assets, Khaitan never disclosed it.
Mehta said the issue “deserves a final adjudication” by the apex court.
He said charge sheet has been filed in the case and charges are yet to be framed against the accused.
When the bench asked Khaitan’s counsel as to whether the issue should be decided by the top court, the lawyer said the high court should decide it as the matter is pending there.
“Then we will have to give some prima facie opinion. We will have to pass some order otherwise this (high court) order could be used in other courts,” the bench said.
The top court had in May this year stayed the operation of high court’s May 16 order and had said it would hear the matter.
The high court, in its interim order, had stayed the Centre’s notification to make operational the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act, with effect form July 1, 2015.
Khaitan is one of the accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam. In the high court, he has challenged the legality of various provisions of the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.