Months after high profile raids, I-T says ball in DVAC court

The Income Tax officials say they have submitted essential evidence on illegal gratification pertaining to the cases against Rama Mohana Rao, C Vijaya Baskar and others who came under their scanner.
The residence of Rama Mohana Rao in Anna Nagar
The residence of Rama Mohana Rao in Anna Nagar

Chennai

After lying unattended for several months, the case files regarding the high-profile raids conducted by the Income Tax Investigation department are now being flagged off as the additional director of Income Tax investigation has been given the charge to file the final report. 
However, the status of the cases against former Chief Secretary, Rama Mohana Rao and Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar is still under a shroud and the future action is not immediately known. On Friday, the I-T department had summoned Health Minister C Vijaya Baskar’s father Chinnathambi and interrogated him. I-T sources told DT Next that Chinnathambi had been interrogated regarding the accounts and payments they made regarding the quarries they operate. Chinnathambi is also a contractor and is involved in huge cash dealings, I-T department sources said. 
“We have got the assessment done and the final report in these cases would be filed soon. Since the earlier official was transferred, there was a delay,” a senior I-T official said. 
More than eight months have passed since the I-T officials conducted a series of high profile raids in the state, starting with sand mining baron, Sekhar Reddy and his associates. The authorities had stumbled upon a treasure trove and effected the single largest seizure of valuables from the houses of Sekhar Reddy and his associates. 
They seized Rs 132.5 crore in cash and 177 kg gold. Sekhar Reddy and associates, unlike the other high profile individuals who later came under the I-T net, were arrested by the anti-corruption wing of CBI. The powerful sand mining baron, whom the I-T department found to have connections with many politicians in the country, however, had no luck on their part as the Enforcement Directorate arrested them and also slapped a Prevention of Money Laundering (PMLA) case on them. 
However, many of the beneficiaries on the list of Sekhar Reddy, barring a few, escaped the I-T scrutiny and the Income Tax department was accused of political manipulation. The status of cases against Rama Mohana Rao, Vijaya Baskar and against Vivek Papishetty, son of Rama Mohana Rao is not showing any progress. “Actually, we at Income Tax department has no role in this follow-up. If we had found tax evasion after assessing valuables in their possession and declared assets, we will make them pay the penalty, that is all. We have no mandate to go after them on charges of corruption,” a senior I-T official said. 
When asked about the status of these cases and the abrupt end on raids against suspects in the long list that I-T department once possessed, the official said they have submitted all the evidences against these public servants to the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC). “It is DVAC who need to take the follow-up action. We have not dropped any of the cases that followed the high-profile cases and these persons will be made to pay the penalties,” IT officials said. 
“A whole bunch of evidence for illegal gratification and money distribution by these politicians and bureaucrats has been submitted to DVAC. They can register the case and investigate the accusations of corruption. Our cases are going steady and on Friday we had summoned Vijaya Baskar’s father for interrogation. So, after final assessment of the total tax evaded by these people, we will levy the penalty. Penalty would be decided on the final report that we would be submitting in some days,” the I-T officer said. When contacted, ADGP M N Manjunatha, director of DVAC said, “They have submitted the documents and a DVAC enquiry is now on. Based on the conclusions we arrive after the enquiry, cases will be registered.”
Timeline
DECEMBER 8, 2016: I-T investigation department raids the houses and office premises of Sekhar Reddy and his associates. Seize Rs 90 crore and 100 kg of gold. 
DECEMBER 9, 2016: Raids continue in Chennai, Vellore and several other parts of the state. Seized amount rises to Rs.106 crore, and 27 kg more gold. In all, seizure totalled Rs.132.5 crore and 177 kg of gold.
DECEMBER 21, 2016: I-T raids the office and residence of the then Chief Secretary Rama Mohana Rao, seizes several incriminating documents from his cabin in the Secretariat. Chief Minister O Paneer Selvam was in his cabin at that time.
DECEMBER 22: I-T continued their raids at the house of Rama Mohana Rao’s son, Vivek Papishetty; at the residence and official premises of K Nagarajan, Managing Director of State Warehousing Corporation. I-T sleuths reportedly seized unaccounted cash and hard-drives with sensitive data on illegal gratification.
APRIL 7, 2017: I-T officials raid the residences of Health Minister, C Vijaya Baskar, actor Sarath Kumar, etc. I-T officials seize a document with records of money distribution at R K Nagar for TTV Dinakaran. 
All the raided ministers and bureaucrats are said to be close to the Sasikala camp and the I-T department was accused of being a political tool. 
The intense raids come to an abrupt end as the Election Commission countermanded the by-election at R K Nagar. 

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