I-T dept claims Rs 5 crore seized by cops, Telangana HC says pay back | Hyderabad NewsJanuary 14, 2021
The bench of Justice M S Ramachandra Rao and Justice T Amarnath Goud ordered the I-T department to pay Rs 20,000 to the Gujarat company and also return the Rs 5 crore with 12% interest within four weeks. The bench pronounced the order after hearing two writ petitions by Ahmedabad-based firm, Mectec, and its employee Vipul Patel.
According to Vedula Srinivas, counsel for the company, it all began with task force policemen stopping a car on August 23, 2019, when it entered Telangana and seized the cash. The police wrote to the principal director of the income tax department in Hyderabad on August 26 informing him that they handed over cash, the vehicle and the men to the deputy director of income tax.
But income tax officials showed the seizure as their own effort. They also created a record to show that they made a panchanama at the time of seizure. But they did not mention where the search was conducted or where the panchnama was made.
The petitioner’s counsel said that the income tax department’s search warrant was issued on August 28, when police officials had handed over the cash to I-T sleuths two days earlier. In fact, the deputy director of income tax had even given an acknowledgement dated August 27, Srinivas said.
Mectec owners Neena and Kamalesh Shah buy agricultural land and produce. They also handle large sums of cash. According to the counsel, the seized Rs 5 crore was given to Vipul to make deals in Telangana.
The I-T department insisted that Vipul was not a Mectec employee. It cited Vipul’s statement to the cops that he worked for Umeshchandra and Co. If this was to be true, the judges said, then Umeshchandra would have come forward to claim the cash. The fact that, except Mectec, no one came forward to claim the amount also weighed in with the petitioners.
“You cannot retain the seized cash in anticipation of an unknown third party claimant to come and claim this money in future,” the bench said and ordered refund of the money with interest.