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Misa Bharti finally deposes before I-T dept; questioned on investments

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-06-2017 PTI

New Delhi: The Income Tax Department on Wednesday questioned Misa Bharti, MP daughter of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, in connection with its probe into land deals worth Rs1,000 crore. Officials said, Bharti was questioned about her personal finances and investments, especially in real estate, after she finally deposed before the investigating officer (IO) of the case here after skipping similar summons at least twice.

They said, she was grilled for over four hours and was confronted with few documents seized by the department in the case. Bharti was also asked about her and her family’s “connection” with firm identified as Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited. Misa, a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) from the RJD, had earlier skipped income tax summons that were issued to her in this case registered under the Income Tax Act, 1961 and another under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2016.

Officials said, sometime back she was asked to dipose today and that she might be questioned again in the case. A similar exercise of obtaining details is to be carried out by the department against her husband Shailesh Kumar, they added. Kumar, like Bharti, had skipped the I-T summons in the past. The department has recently charged six family members of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, including wife, son and daughters, under the new and stringent anti-benami assets Act in connection with the probe.

The department has also served notices of attachment of assets to Bharti and Shailesh Kumar, Lalu’s wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, son and Bihar Deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and daughters Chanda and Ragini Yadav. PTI had reported that the provisional attachment order had been issued under Section 24(3) (where the taxman thinks the person in possession of the property held benami may alienate the property) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2016 and Lalu’s kin have been identified as the “beneficiaries” of the alleged benami assets.

Violations under the Act, enacted in 1988 but implemented from 1 November last year, attract a rigorous imprisonment (RI) of up to 7 years and fine up to 25% of the fair market value of the property. The department has attached about a dozen plots and buildings in Delhi and Bihar including a farm house and land in the Palam Vihar area, a residential building in the upmarket New Friends Colony area of south Delhi, nine plots on a 256.75 decimal land area in Phulwari Sharif area in Patna, where a shopping mall was being constructed, among few others in the same area in Bihar’s capital.

The department has said these alleged benami assets bear a “deed” value of about Rs9.32 crore but the taxman has estimated their current market value at Rs170-180 crore. Tejashwi had on Tuesday told reporters in Patna that “all these rumours are spread because of political vendetta and political conspiracies” and dismissed the charges as “unsubstantiated allegations.”

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