IT notice and AG’s anger: Computers are not so innocent

 

Question Mark

Income Tax rules make exceptions but its departmental computers don’t know how to be biased or unbiased.
Goolam Vahanvati used to come under IT scrutiny in Mumbai regularly when he was AG. He accepted it as his fate and never showed his anger or objected to it. A former Chief Election Commissioner and his wife were similarly served notices under 143 (2) and they were reasonably worried. They also followed the rules.
But every powerful person is not so modest. Surely not AG Mukul Rohatgi. Recently, the income tax department slapped a scrutiny notice on him even though he’s been one of the highest tax payers for the past 15 years. He found the notice in a bad taste and shot off a letter to the CBDT Chairman protesting against the issuance of the scrutiny notice.

Shaken by AG’s anger, the chairman responded to the AG with a request for a meeting. Rather, he was advised that nothing less than the withdrawal of the IT notice would work.

The Chairman brought it to Rohatgi’s notice that it was an auto generated scrutiny notice which randomly picks one percent of taxpayers. Rohatgi wasn’t impressed and advised him to make sure that the department also ought to see the notices after computers pick the names and generate notices to be slapped and then only they should be served on the taxpayers.
The IT department finds itself now in a quandary.

Though scrutiny notices have been issued in the past, among others, to the President, Finance Minister (PC), and Chairperson of UPA during Manmohan Singh’s prime ministerial tenure etc. Even the lawyer children of sitting High Court judges have been surveyed. So the notice to the AG may not seem to be a big deal.

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