The Madras High Court today dismissed a petition challenging an Income Tax department notification transferring cases related to searches at the premises of a firm, purportedly linked to Congress leader P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidmbaram, from a Deputy Commissioner to another. Justice T S Sivagnanam dismissed the petition filed by Advantage Strategic Consulting Private Limited, holding that there was no ground to interfere with the June 24, 2016 notification issued by the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax. By the impugned notification, cases against the petitioner firm had been transferred from the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (DCIT) Corporate Circle-1 (1) to the DCIT Central Circle-2(1) here. The Enforcement Directorate conducted searches in the office premises of the petitioner company, represented by its director M Ramesh and the residences of its directors on December 1, 2015 over alleged violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Simultaneously, the I-T department also conducted a survey in the office premises of the petitioner and the residences of its Directors.
Later, the Principal Commissioner of Income Tax-1 issued the notification transferring the cases related to the petitioner to a different officer, who is also posted in the city. Challenging this the company moved the court. Senior counsel Nalini Chidambaram, appearing for the petitioner, contended that the notification suffered from errors as it had been issued without hearing the petitioner and without recording the reasons. Dismissing the petition, Justice Sivagnanam said the fact that the transferee and transferor officers were within the same city was not in dispute.
Noting that there had been an agreement between the two heads of the department, he said the petitioner cannot plead for an opportunity to be granted before an order of transfer, as there is no such statutory requirement under the I-T act. Rather, such a procedure had been specifically excluded. The court was also satisfied that reasons had been recorded for the transfer as had been mentioned by referring to the chain of events. In such circumstances, the impugned notification cannot be faulted on the grounds raised by the petitioner, the judge said and dismissed the plea.