The Madras High Court Friday extended an interim order dispensing with the appearance of former Union minister P Chidambaram’s family members before a special court here till November 2 in a case of ‘non-disclosure’ of foreign assets filed against them by the I-T department. A division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad, has already reserved its order on the main appeals moved by Chidambaram’s wife, son and daughter-in-law, challenging the prosecution initiated against them by the Income Tax department under the Black Money Act.
On September 14, the court in an interim order dispensed with the appearance of Chidambaram’s wife Nalini, his son, Karti and daughter-in-law Srinidhi before the special court for economic offences cases, Egmore till October 12. With the interim order coming to an end Friday, it was extended up to November 2.
The issue pertains to alleged non-disclosure of overseas assets and bank accounts held by the trio. According to the I-T department, the three had failed to disclose a property they jointly own in Cambridge in the UK, worth Rs 5.37 crore, which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.
The department has also alleged that Karti Chidambaram had failed to disclose an overseas bank account he holds with Metro Bank in the UK and investments he had made in Nano Holdings LLC, USA. He had also “failed” to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounts to an offence under the Black Money Act, the department has said in its complaint filed in the special court in May.
Assailing the prosecution, the three had approached the High Court. As a single judge bench refused any relief, they moved an appeal. On June 27, the first bench headed by then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee reserved its order on the appeal. However, as Justice Banerjee was later elevated to the Supreme Court, orders could not be pronounced.
The appeal was then referred to the bench headed by Justice Manikumar for fresh hearing. During the hearing by Justice Banerjee, counsel for the appellants had contended that prima facie no offence can be made out against them under the Black Money Act. The Act deals with undisclosed income raised from foreign assets. But in the present case, all the relevant information had been disclosed by the petitioners in their returns filed under the Income Tax Act, the counsel had said.