In a big relief to Congress Lok Sabha MP Karti Chidambaram and his wife Srinidhi, the Madras High Court on Tuesday granted an interim stay till January 27, on the proceedings against them in connection with a case of alleged income tax evasion, pending before a special court meant for hearing cases related to MPs and MLAs.
Justice M Sundar restrained the special court from framing charges against Karti and his wife on the basis that it should wait till the high court decides its jurisdiction on the issue.
The matter relates to the alleged non-disclosure of Rs 1.35 crore received by Karti, son of former union minister P Chidambaram, and his wife Srinidhi in cash for sale of land at Muttukadu near here.
Now, following the interim order, the special court, which is proposed to frame charges, is restrained from doing so.
Karti had submitted that the transaction was completed and returns of income were filed in 2015 when he was not a Member of Parliament. He and his wife had further contended that a simple order of transfer cannot remove the case from the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Court, Egmore and be sent to the special court for trial of criminal cases, which is a sessions court.
A sessions court does not have the original jurisdiction to take cognisance of a criminal case unless it has been authorised by a special statutory provision to that effect, the petitioners said.
As per the case, Srinidhi owned 1.18 acres of land in Muttukadu village in Kancheepuram district. Thereafter, she sold it for a total consideration of Rs 3.65 crore to Agni Estates and Foundation Ltd. She then invested Rs 3.34 crore out of the sale proceeds in a new residential house and paid capital gains tax to the extent applicable as per Section 54F of the Income Tax Act.
However, the Deputy Director of Income Tax (Investigation) re-opened the assessment for 2015-16 stating that he had reasons to believe that the income had escaped assessment for 2015-16.
It was alleged that the said land was sold for a total sale consideration of Rs 5.01 crore out of which Rs 3.65 crore was received by cheque and Rs 1.35 crore was received by cash.
Hence, based on the aspect that the amount received in cash was not accounted for, a case was registered by the Income Tax department on September 12, 2018 under Section 200 of the CrPC against Karti and his wife.
The case was later transferred to the special court.