I-T department questions Misa Bharti on investments in real estate

Misa Bharti (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The income-tax department on Wednesday questioned Misa Bharti, MP and daughter of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, in connection with its probe into the alleged land deals worth Rs 1,000 crore and tax evasion.

Sources said Ms Bharti was questioned about her personal finances and investments, especially in real estate, after she finally deposed before the investigating officer of the case here after skipping similar summons at least tw-ice. She was questioned for over four hours and was confronted with certain documents seized by the department in the case, they said. Ms Bharti was also asked about her and her family’s connection with firm identified as Ms Mishail Packers and Printers Private Limited.

Ms 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. A similar exercise of obtaining details is to be carried out by the department against her husband Shailesh Kumar, they added. Mr Kumar, like Ms Bharti, had skipped the I-T summons.

The department on Tuesday 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 Ms Bharti and Shailesh Kumar, former Bihar CM Rabri Devi, son and Bihar deputy CM Tejashwi Yadav and daughters Chanda and Ragini Yadav.

The provisional attachment order has been issued under Section 24(3) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 2016, and Lalu’s kin have been identified as the “beneficiaries” of the alleged benami assets. Those who violate the Act attract a rigorous imprisonment of up to 7 years and fine up to 25 per cent 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 posh 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 Rs 9.32 crore but the taxman has estimated their current market value at Rs 170-180 crore. Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name (benamidar) the property has been purchased. The department will now move for confiscating these assets after getting approval from the Adjudicating Authority of the Act. The Act allows for prosecution of the beneficial owner, the benamidar, the abettor and the inducer to benami transactions.