Cong de­mands CBI probe against city realty firm

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - METRO - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

MUM­BAI: Congress spokesper­son and leg­is­la­tor Bhai Jag­tap on Tues­day called for an in­quiry by the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) into the func­tion­ing of a city realty firm, the Lodha Group.

Jag­tap, on the ba­sis of an 2011 ap­praisal re­port by the Ad­di­tional Di­rec­tor of In­come Tax, cir­cu­lated to the me­dia at the party’s press con­fer­ence, al­leged that the com­pany had in­dulged in “round trip­ping of funds among the group of com­pa­nies” to dis­guise the sources and ap­pli­ca­tion of un­ac­counted funds. “The Lodha group has a huge land bank to the tune of Rs 25,000 crore, the in­vest­ment in this needs to be probed,” he said.

The Lodha Group rub­bished these al­le­ga­tions. “The Lodha group is fully com­pli­ant with all laws and reg­u­la­tions re­lated to In­come Tax. Fol­low­ing cer­tain pro­ce­dures in Jan­uary 2011, the Lodha Group has ap­proached the ap­pro­pri­ate author­ity, as spec­i­fied un­der law, to bring clo­sure to the is­sues raised by the In­come Tax de­part­ment,” said an emailed re­sponse from the group spokesper­son.

The re­sponse from the com­pany goes on to say: “The cronies of a South Mum­bai Congress leader, who have done noth­ing for the area and are afraid of fac­ing elec­tions, have been try­ing to level al­le­ga­tions against Lodha from the last 4 weeks and this is one more po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated at­tempt by them.” Lodha Group founder and chair­man Man­gal Prab­hat Lodha is a Bharatiya Janata Party leg­is­la­tor from Mal­abar Hill con­stituency.

“We will write to the Union fi­nance min­is­ter and Union home min­is­ter to in­sti­tute a CBI in­quiry against the group. This re­port, an­nexed with a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion (PIL) filed in the Bom­bay high court, has pointed to un­ac­counted sale of car park­ing spa­ces, con­ceal­ing of in­come and other ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties cur­rently be­ing heard by the In­come Tax Set­tle­ment Com­mis­sion,” said Jag­tap at the Mum­bai Congress of­fice.

The In­come Tax ap­praisal re­port and a set­tle­ment com­mis­sion or­der of April 2013 have been an­nexed to a crim­i­nal PIL filed be­fore the Bom­bay High Court by Anil Jain and oth­ers and reg­is­tered on Oc­to­ber 1, 2013.

The re­port, drafted af­ter search and seizure ac­tion on the Lodha Group in Oc­to­ber 2011, states that the com­pany has not ac­counted for any re­ceipts from sale of park­ing spa­ces in its build­ing com­plexes. “The money is ei­ther col­lected in cash or by way of cheques in the name of some third party com­pa­nies…the as­sessee has al­ready sur­ren­dered an amount of Rs107.80 crores on ac­count of un­ac­counted park­ing,’’ it said. Ac­cord­ing to this re­port, the IT es­ti­mate of re­ceipts from un­ac­counted sale of park­ing spa­ces is at Rs150.02 crore.

The Lodha Group spokesper­son, how­ever ar­gued that no or­der had been passed against the firm in this mat­ter in the last 30 months.

SHAKTI YA­DAV

Na­tional Ser­vice Scheme stu­dents from var­i­ous city col­leges, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Mum­bai univer­sity and the state gov­ern­ment, staged an aware­ness rally against al­co­hol and drugs on Tues­day.

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