Mahesh Shah Who Disclosed Rs13,860 Crs May Walk Free, Big Politicians Behind Him ?

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Mehta, who later resigned from BJP, said Mahesh used to arrange the auction for gifts Modi received when he was Gujarat chief minister.

Ahmedabad-based property dealer Mahesh Shah had in September declared Rs13,860 crore in undisclosed income under Income Disclosure Scheme. (File Photo: PTI)

Ahmedabad : It seems like all the hardship, struggles and sacrifices of common people during demonetisation will be flushed into drains. Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned 85% of Indian cash economy through demonetisation of higher value notes which crippled the citizens with massive cash crunch, waste of manpower at banks and ATMs, several reported death during cash deposits and withdrawal in banks and ATMs while many died due to unable to fulfill their needs and medical expenses.

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According to Ahmedabad Mirror, the Income-Tax department is on an overdrive to conduct searches, raids and serve notices. On Monday, the government even proposed to tweak the Income-Tax law to allow I-T officials to carry out a raid without any evidence. The department has been empowered to conduct raids based on unsubstantiated rumours, too. But even as honest tax payers continue to fear I-T, here is a piece of news that may shake our trust on the credibility of the department. Mahesh Shah, who declared Rs 13,860 crore as undisclosed income and then developed cold feet, will have no action initiated against him.

Mirror also claimed that top I-T sources have confirmed them that the Mahesh Shah case is as good as closed. Mahesh Shah is a free man. There will be absolutely no action initiated against him.

There are modern methods like narco-analysis and lie-detector that can be used to find out the truth. It is very important for the nation to know why Shah lied about the money, and who are the real culprits behind this,” one of the officials said. A source in the department revealed that it was clear from the very beginning there is no provision under which Shah can be booked, but because the media kept pressurising and mocking officials about their inaction they were forced to say that the IPC approach would be taken. Besides other clauses, the IDS form has a particular clause regarding payment of the tax which says: “In case of non-payment of the (tax) amount as specified above (depending upon the amount of disclosure), the declaration under Form-1 shall be treated as void and shall be deemed never to have been made.”

Since Shah failed to pay the first tax instalment of Rs 1,560 crore, I-T officials cancelled his form on November 28, two days before the last date of paying the tax. The source added in Shah’s case even if he made the false claim in the form that the Rs 13,860 crore belonged to him, he cannot be punished under the I-T Act and IPC for giving false information since the form itself holds no value anymore. The I-T department had also claimed that Mahesh Shah’s CA Tehmul Sethna was also going to be booked under IPC. Sethna filed anticipatory bail in response to this.

Mahesh Shah revealed on live TV before getting detained

Shah, 67, went missing after he failed to pay the first instalment of tax on the declared money. But he quite dramatically reappeared on a live TV interview on a national channel on December 3. On TV, Shah went on to claim that the money belonged to a group of “powerful people who could be politicians, businessmen and officers.” Shah also said he would reveal the names only to the I-T officials. He insisted that the money did not belong to his friends, family or his chartered accountant.

https://youtu.be/XbhMiM0ETnc

Earlier reports suggested that the businessman was close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah, and former Gujarat chief minister Suresh Mehta confirmed it hours before Mahesh had surfaced on the day he was detained at studio.

Mehta, who later resigned from BJP, said Mahesh used to arrange the auction for gifts Modi received when he was Gujarat chief minister.

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The retired politician claimed that when an auction failed, Shah bought all the items himself and later settled up by the Ahmedabad District Cooperative Bank. The BJP national chief was the bank’s chairman till 2003 and continues to be one of the directors, Mehta claimed.

But the BJP dismissed Mehta’s claim. “The party has nothing to do with him (Mahesh Shah). No one in the party knows him,” BJP spokesperson Bharat Pandya.

TAX AMENDMENT

Post-demonetisation, the Income-Tax department has conducted searches, seizures and surveys in more than 1,100 cases and issued more than 5,100 notices till January 19. What’s more, changes in the Finance Act 2017 have been proposed with retrospective effect bringing into the ambit even old cases dating back to April 1, 1962 (under section 132) and October 1, 1975 (under section 132A).

This means I-T authorities can now raid any business or individual if they have a reason to believe or suspect that income is being withheld and tax not paid on it. The amendment proposed will remove safeguards currently available to companies and individuals. Meanwhile, political parties demanded a probe in the Mahesh Shah case so that the names behind him could be made public.

Opposition parties accuses State and Central Government hand

We knew since the beginning that the issue would be buried sooner or later. It shows that the persons involved in the scam are influential and aligned with the ruling party. I-T department should not cover up the issue. It must declare all the names. There is several people behind this. I-T should track each one of them, and take action against them. Our party has been demanding a probe in this case since long but the BJP has been turning a deaf ear to everything. All the names should be made public,” said senior Congress leader Arjun Modhwadia.

AAP Gujarat media coordinator Harshil Nayak said, “It is quite clear why I-T department is not going to take any action against Mahesh Shah. We have been saying that Shah is only a proxy and was helping known BJP leaders. When I-T went soft on Shah, it confirmed our suspicion.

Mahesh Shah in seclusion

According to Ahmedabad Mirror, they visited Mahesh Shah’s house at Mangaljyot Apartments in Satellite on Tuesday and found him living a quiet life. Sources revealed that since the death of his wife Vanita, Shah has cut down on socialising. He is rarely seen mingling with relatives or neighbours. Earlier, Shah used to frequent a paratha house near the society. A source said that the eatery has stopped letting him have food there on credit, and Shah is not seen there much either.

With PTI inputs

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