The Income-Tax (I-T) Department informed the Madras High Court on January 24, 2019 that the Poes Garden residence of late chief minister J Jayalalithaa in Chennai, which was proposed to be converted into a memorial by the Tamil Nadu government, was also under attachment for recovery of tax dues. The I-T Department furnished the information in a counter-affidavit, filed before the division bench of justices Vineet Kothari and Anita Sumanth.
The high court had, on January 3, 2019, directed the Department to apprise it of tax dues and the status of recovery, if any, relating to Jayalalithaa’s house. The direction was given on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by social activist Traffic Ramaswamy, challenging chief minister K Palaniswami’s announcement to convert Jayalalithaa’s Poes Garden residence – ‘Veda Nilayam’ – into a memorial.
Deputy commissioner of income tax, central circle, Shoba filed the counter-affidavit, which contained information about the demands raised under the Income Tax Act, against Jayalalithaa and the list of the four immovable properties under attachment, including her Poes Garden house. According to the counter-affidavit, the total arrears of wealth tax up to assessment year 2018 for Jayalalithaa amounted to Rs 10.12 crores, including interest up to December 31, 2018 and arrears of income tax up to December 31, 2018. Of the four properties, attachment notices for three, including the Poes Garden house, were served in 2007, whereas for the one on St Mary’s Road, notice was served in 2013.
The senior counsel for the I-T Department appeared before the bench and sought two weeks’ time, to file another affidavit of the authorised officer of the department to give the position of assessments, appeals, if any and recovery of outstanding arrears of tax assessed, besides the steps taken for the recovery of the same. The department would also spell out its stand in the matter of recovery of such arrears of tax and whether for those reasons, they had any objection to the relief claimed in the present writ petition for creating a memorial of the former AIADMK leader.
Advocate General Vijay Narayan, who appeared for the state government, submitted that it would be proper to implead the estate of the former chief minister in the present writ petition. On the demands of the I-T Department indicated in the affidavit, the advocate general said the state might be permitted to file a memo to place on record as to who should be impleaded, on behalf of Jayalalithaa’s estate. Concurring with the request, the bench posted the matter for further hearing to February 7, 2019. On August 17, 2017, Palaniswami had announced his government’s decision to convert the former chief minister’s residence into a memorial. The I-T Department had carried out searches at Veda Nilayam in connection with the Gutkha scam in 2017.