October 11, 2019

Supreme Court Dismisses Income Tax Department’sPlea To Reassess Deepak Kochchar-Owned NuPower’sAccounts

[ By Bobby Anthony ]


The Supreme Court has dismissed the Income Tax department’s petition that it would like to reassess accounts of the Deepak Kochhar-owned NuPower Renewables to probe an investment made in that company by Firsthand Holdings in 2011.

The Supreme Court has thus effectively agreed with an earlier Bombay High Court ruling that the matter was time-barred and would fall in the realm of “fishing enquiries”.

It may be recalled that theIncome Tax department had sought to reopen the accounts of NuPowerin 2018 to examine the genuineness of investments of about Rs 50 crore by Firstland Holdings in 2011.

Firstland Holdings is owned by promoter NishantKanodia, the son-in-law of Essar Group chairman Ravi Ruia. Several transactions between Firstland and NuPower from 2010-12 are under probe over alleged quid pro quo deals.

Incidentally, Deepak Kochharhappens to be the husband of ChandaKochhar, who is former Managing Director of ICICI Bank, who was charged with alleged criminal conspiracy, cheating and abuse of official position for dishonestly sanctioning loans to the Videocon Group.

NuPoweris being probed for receiving quid pro quo investments for loans sanctioned to various industrial houses by ICICI when she was at the helm of affairs.

The Income Tax department wanted to investigate the investment of Rs 49.9 crore by Mauritius-based Firstland Holdings in NuPower through the purchase of convertible preference shares in 2010-11. In mid-2018, the Income Tax department claimed the source, genuineness and creditworthiness of Firstland Holdings remain unexplained and needed further investigation.

NuPower challenged the department’s move in Bombay High Court on December 12, 2018.
It argued that the reopening notice was time-barred since it was issued beyond the permissible period of four years.

A division bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice AkilKureshi and Justice MS Sanklechahad set aside the Income Tax department’s reopening notice on March 7, observing that the Income Tax officer had all material information in hand when the assessment was made.

Subsequently, the Income Tax department had challenged the Bombay High Court ruling in the Supreme Court, where a division bench of Justice RohintonFaliNariman and Justice Surya Kant dismissed its petition.

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