Jayalalithaa to face trial for not filing IT return: Supreme Court
In a setback to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, the Supreme Court Thursday said she will face trial for not filing income tax returns for 1993-94 in her capacity as the joint owner of Sashi Enterprises along with her aide N. Sasikala.
Sasikala too will face trial for not filing tax returns for the same year.
The two will also face trial for Sashi Enterprises not filing the tax return for the years 1991-1992 and 1992-93, even though both Jayalalitha and Sasikala had "belatedly" filed their individual tax returns for these years.
Both had filed their returns for 1991-92 and 1992-93 as individual assessee on Nov 20, 1994 and Feb 23, 1994 respectively.
Having held that Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and their jointly-held company would face prosecution, the apex court bench of Justice K.S.Radhakrishnan and Justice A.K.Sikri said: "We, therefore, find no reason to interfere with the order passed by the high vourt. The appeals, therefore, lack merits and the same are dismissed and the criminal court is directed to complete the trial within four months from the date of receipt of this judgment."
Though Jayalalithaa and Sasikala belatedly filed their individual tax returns but on behalf of Sashi Enterprises, it was contended that its return has not been filed as its accounts have not been finalized.
But the apex court refused to accept the argument.
"We are also of the view that the declaration or statement made in the individual returns by partners that the accounts of the firm are not finalized, hence no return has been filed by the firm, will not absolve the firm in filing the statutory return under section 139(1) of the Act" it said.
"The firm is independently required to file the return and merely because there has been a best judgment assessment under Section 144 would not nullify the liability of the firm to file the return as per Section 139(1) of the Act", the court underlined.
Speaking for the bench, Justice Radhakrishnan said: "Appellants' (Jayalalithaa and Sasikala) contention that since they had in their individual returns indicated that the firm's accounts had not been finalized, hence no returns were filed, would mean that failure to file return was not willful, cannot be accepted."
Pointing to the "dilatory tactics adopted in these cases", the court said: "Each and every order passed by the revenue (authority) as well as by the courts were taken up before the higher courts, either through appeals, revisions or writ petitions."
Justice Radhakrishnan said, "Courts, we caution, be guarded against those persons who prefer to see it as a medium for stalling all legal processes."
The complaints in the case were filed Aug 21, 1997, by the assistant commissioner of income tax, Chennai, before the additional chief metropolitan magistrate 1 (Egmore), Chennai.
(Posted on 30-01-2014)