Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath under I-T scanner

Written by Ritu Sarin | New Delhi | Updated: Jun 9 2014, 16:03pm hrs
Earlier this year, the Income-Tax department released data which showed that over 15 lakh people across the country had come under its scanner since they had purchased or sold immovable property valued at Rs 30 lakh or more.

It now transpires that among the transactions selected for scrutiny was one for a sale of property in Hyderabad by Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath. While the first communication from the I-T departments investigation wing went out to the CEC in February, the latest missive from the I-T listing transaction details on which it has now sought clarifications was received by him on April 24, even as the general election was on.

A scrutiny of documents shows that the CEC has since been questioned about the sale of a property measuring 600 square yards in the upmarket Banjara Hills area in Hyderabad. The property was sold by Sampath in July 2011 to a company named Aditya Convention Centre and Holiday Resorts and, subsequently, in November, he purchased an apartment in Safdarjung Enclave in South Delhi for almost the exact price which he got as a share of his Hyderabad property: Rs 1.66 crore.

An equal amount was received by his wife and daughter each and the total value of the sale deed was Rs 5 crore.

The I-T department has in its latest communication asked the CEC for clarifications on several points. They include: the classification of income shown by him; whether the income (for purchase of property) was actually from the sale of the earlier property and most importantly, why he finds himself eligible for not paying capital gains tax as per Section 54 of the I-T Act. The I-T authorities have also pointed out that exemption from paying capital gains tax can only be granted if a residential property is sold and a residential property purchased (within a two-year period) and that the property sold by Sampath in Hyderabad, in fact, was two pieces of vacant land and a small outhouse and could therefore not be classified as a residential property.

When contacted Sampath told The Indian Express that while he had sent an initial reply to the I-T department, following the receipt of the longer list of queries he has sought an extension of time for dispatching the reply.

My chartered accountant will soon be giving the clarifications to the department. The issue was first taken up by the department when a mention of my PAN card number was missing in one of the property transactions. That has been sorted out, he pointed out. I have mentioned the sale of property in Hyderabad which I had bought for an insignificant amount in 1986 and the purchase of a small builder flat in Delhi in my I-T returns. I will now also give the remaining clarifications to the department.