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I-T Dept Seeks Enquiry into 'Stamp Duty Evasion' by EC Ashok Lavasa's Family

Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has rubbished the report saying that his family has fully discharged stamp duty obligation on a property transaction on which the Income Tax department has reportedly flagged 'discrepancies'.

News18.com

Updated:December 27, 2019, 3:42 PM IST
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I-T Dept Seeks Enquiry into 'Stamp Duty Evasion' by EC Ashok Lavasa's Family
File photo of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa.

New Delhi: The Income Tax Department has on Friday sought an inquiry into the transfer of an apartment in Gurgaon from Novel Lavasa, wife of Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, to his sister Shakuntala Lavasa for alleged evasion of stamp duty.

The tax authority has flagged “discrepancies" between the income tax returns of Novel Lavasa for FY18 and the registered transfer deeds of a Gurgaon property to Haryana government officials, the Indian Express reported.

“The communication was shared with the Deputy Commissioner of Gurugram on December 9. We haven’t received his reply yet. We have reminded him to apprise IT department and also my office,” Haryana’s Financial Commissioner of Revenue and Disaster Management, Dhanpat Singh, told the daily that the I-T department’s letter was received on November 27.

Meanwhile, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa has rubbished the report saying that his family has fully discharged stamp duty obligation on a property transaction on which the Income Tax department has reportedly flagged “discrepancies". Shakuntala Lavasa, too, said that she has paid “stamp duty of Rs 10,42,220 as per law”, the Express reported.

“There is no evasion of stamp duty, which has been paid as per applicable rates by the person liable to do it. It is for the department to ascertain the facts and not indulge in selective leaks,” the Election Commissioner was quoted in the report.

The report said that Novel Lavasa’s returns show that one of her properties, the first floor of a four-storeyed building in Gurugram, was sold to Shakuntala Lavasa for Rs 1.73 crore and the “sale” is corroborated by the returns filed by Shakuntala Lavasa for the financial year 2017-18. In her returns, Shakuntala Lavasa has shown the said property as “self-occupied”.

“The property transfers were done by permission of competent authority and the due stamp duty has been paid. These roving inquiries were meant to humiliate and malign me and my family’s reputation,” Novel Lavasa said on Friday.

The I-T department’s report said that the “deduction under relevant section of Income Tax Act has been claimed on the capital gains arising on this transaction in ITR by Mrs Novel Lavasa and no tax has been paid.” Further, the tax authority said that the registered transfer deeds show that Novel Lavasa gifted the property to her husband on 27.12.2018 and Ashok Lavasa gifted the same property to his sister, Shakuntala Lavasa, on 21.1.2019.

According to a 2014 order of the Haryana government, gift of immovable property between spouses and between blood relatives (parents, children, grandchildren and siblings) does not attract stamp duty. The registered deeds of Novel Lavasa state that the above transfers are “on account natural love and affection” and hence are exempt from stamp duty.

However, property sale transaction in urban spaces of Haryana requires a payment of 5% stamp duty.

Besides, the report of the tax department said, “Prima facie, this appears to be a case of stamp duty evasion by Novel Lavasa and Shakuntala Lavasa. The sale transaction between Novel Lavasa and Shakuntala Lavasa has been camouflaged as ‘gift’ of immovable property in a circuitous manner — first by Novel Lavasa to Ashok Lavasa (spouse of Mrs Novel Lavasa) and then by Ashok Lavasa to Shakuntala Lavasa (sister of Ashok lavasa).”

Ashok Lavasa is one of the three commissioners in the Election Commission who had objected to giving Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former BJP president Amskdfgsdzvfit Shah clean chits on five occasion. PM Modi and Home Minister Shah were given clean chit on charges of violating the Model Code of Conduct during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.

He had offered to recuse himself, which was rejected by the EC, from all meetings related to model code of conduct (MCC) and demanded that all dissenting views regarding allegations of violations of the MCC should be recorded in the orders that the EC put out.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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