Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti today skipped questioning by tax officials for the second time in about a week in connection with a probe into a Rs 1,000 crore alleged benami land deal and tax evasion case. Income Tax Department officials said it has decided to issue a second penalty show cause notice of Rs 10,000 to Bharti for non-compliance of summons even as they are mulling the next course of action, including giving her a fresh and a third chance to appear for questioning. She had not appeared in person on June 6, following which the department had issued a show cause notice under section 131 of the IT Act and fined her Rs 10,000. Bharti, who was supposed to appear before the investigating officer of the case today, is understood to have cited certain personal reasons for not doing so. Her husband Shailesh Kumar is scheduled to depose before the IO tomorrow. He too had given a miss to the questioning on June 7.
The department wants to question the couple to take the probe further into the case, wherein the taxman had conducted multiple searches last month. A chartered accountant, Rajesh Kumar Agrawal, allegedly linked with Bharti and others, was also arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on May 22. Agrawal is alleged to have aided in illegal transactions involving Lalu’s kin. Officials had earlier said the summons to Bharti and Kumar were part of the probe into the case and their statements will be recorded. The couple allegedly have links to a firm — Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited — which is suspected to have entered into benami deals for purchasing a farmhouse in Delhi’s Bijwasan area.
More property deals are under the scanner of the taxman. The department is expected to slap provisions of the newly enacted Benami Transactions Act 1988, which came into effect from November 1 last year, in this case. The law provides for a maximum punishment of seven years in jail and a fine. Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased. Tax department officials had earlier said Lalu’s kin held some of the properties in a ‘benami’ way.
The RJD chief, however, had sought to put up a brave face after the raids, saying he was “not scared at all” and will continue to fight against “fascist forces”. “The BJP does not have the courage to stifle my voice… If it tried to silence one Lalu, crores of Lalu will come forward. I am not scared of empty threats,” he had said in a series of tweets after the search operation. The BJP had alleged that Lalu, Bharti and his two sons — Tejashwi and Tej Pratap, both ministers in the Bihar government, were involved in corrupt land deals worth over Rs 1,000 crore, and had asked the Centre to probe one such transaction in Delhi.