Mumbai/Lucknow: The Income Tax (I-T) department on Tuesday denied that it was harassing superstar Amitabh Bachchan and his family by sending them notices.
The department has been under attack from Bachchan's fans and the Samajwadi Party (SP) for the notices. "We are not here to harass any one. If notices have been issued to anyone, the concerned person has to reply to them while the law will take its own course," said I-T Commissioner H Tulsiyan after the actor's fans staged a sit-in outside the deparment's office in Mumbai.
Denying that the Bachchans were "singled out and harassed", Tulsiyan said: "We do make inquiries for suspected Income Tax defaulters in the normal course of our functioning but we certainly don't target anyone."
To a question about Bachchan and his family being served tax notices, he said: "I will not comment on individual cases. The department will proceed as per law."
Wearing dark glasses, the fans shouted slogans against the Central government during the protest outside the office in south Mumbai.
Tulsiyan denied that a notice was issued to Bachchan for a pair of sunglasses, which is reportedly worth Rs 2.7 lakh. Bachchan this month wrote an angry letter to I-T officials, saying it was "most improbable" the sunglasses worn by him in his new movie Zamanat would cost Rs 2.7 lakh.
The actor has also submitted documents to show that his house Jalsa—about whose ownership the department had made queries—was a gift from his sister-in-law Ramola in 1993 and that taxes and stamp duty for it have been paid.
Tulsiyan refused to answer a question on whether the Bachchans were served notice for payment of tax arrears on their family firm Lotus Investment, saying he would not talk about individual cases.
In Lucknow, Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh said the "repeated" income tax notices to Bachchan were meant to "harass" him. He also denied charges that his party was sponsoring protests in favour of the actor.
The Income Tax department has also reopened a 12-year-old case to harass Bachchan, he claimed. "Is it justified to ask Amitabh whether he is an artiste when the whole world knows that?" Singh said.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav accused the Congress-led UPA Government of targeting SP leaders and cautioned it not to act with "vengeance".
"The Congress will not get any thing by targeting Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan. This is my view and I would like to caution the Centre to leave vengeance and think about the country," Yadav said.
Charging the SP with trying to make a political issue out of something that is "purely between the department and the assessee", senior Congress leader Jayanti Natarajan said her party had nothing to do with the matter.
"The SP's attempt to make this a political issue will set a wrong precedent in the counrty's polity," she said.