The Madras high court today exempted three family members of former Union minister P Chidambaram from appearance before a special court here till September 14 in a case filed against them by the Income Tax department under the Black Money Act for alleged non-disclosure of foreign assets.
A division bench of justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad gave the interim relief on an appeal by Chidambaram's wife Nalini, son Karti and daughter-in law Srinidhi challenging the prosecution initiated by the I-T department.
Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S Malarvizhi had on August 20 directed the three to appear before the court on September 3 in connection with the case.
She had given the direction when Nalini and Srinidhi appeared before her. Karti did not appear in the court then and it was submitted that he had gone to London after obtaining due permission from the Supreme Court.
According to the I-T, the three had failed to disclose a property they jointly own in Cambridge, in the UK, worth Rs 5.37 crore, which amounted to an offence under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets) and Imposition of Tax Act.
The department has also alleged that Karti had failed to disclose an overseas bank account he holds with Metro Bank in the UK and investments he had made in Nano Holdings LLC, USA.
He had also 'failed' to disclose investments made by Chess Global Advisory, a company co-owned by him, which amounts to an offence under the blackmoneyact, the department has said in its complaint filed in the special court in May this year.
Assailing the prosecution, the three approached the high court. As a single judge bench refused any relief, they moved an appeal.
On June 27, the first bench headed by the then Chief Justice Indira Banerjee reserved its order on the appeal.
However, as Justice Banerjee was later elevated to the Supreme Court, orders could not be pronounced.
The appeal was then referred to the bench headed by Justice Manikumar for fresh hearing.
During the hearing by Justice Banerjee, counsel for the appellants had contended that prima facie no offence can be made out against them under the Black Money Act.
The act deals with undisclosed income raised from foreign assets. But in the present case, all the relevant information had been disclosed by the petitioners in their returns filed under the Income Tax Act, the counsel had said. -- PTI