Senior lawyer Kapil Sibal on Thursday argued before Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court that the income tax raid against officer on special duty (OSD) to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, Praveen Kakkar was politically motivated. A senior Congress leader, Sibal representing Kakkar, who had moved court on Tuesday requesting to declare the raid against him ‘illegal’, also claimed that the I-T department’s action against the petitioner was without jurisdiction and harmed his reputation.
A special bench of Justices Prakash Shrivastava and Vivek Rusia was set up which took up the petition for hearing on Thursday. The hearing lasted for nearly four hours. Sibal said the raid by Delhi unit of the income tax department on Kakkar’s premises in Indore was not only politically motivated but was also without jurisdiction. He claimed that Delhi unit had no jurisdiction to conduct a raid in Indore.
The petitioner’s lawyer also questioned the legality of deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel during the raid, instead of personnel from the state police. Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain defended the I-T department action, saying it was perfectly legal.
After nearly four hours of arguments, Sibal wished to make some technical amendments to Kakkar’s plea. The court asked him to file an application for the same by on Monday. The next date for hearing has been set for April 22. The raid on Kakkar’s premises, days ahead of Lok Sabha elections, began in the early hours of Sunday and lasted till late Monday evening.
Nothing substantial in petition: Jain
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain claimed that Sibal’s request for amendments in the petition is an admission that there was nothing substantial in the present format of the petition. He stated that if the court allowed the amendments then it would give time to the respondents also to file their reply on the amendments. He also claimed that the petitioner’s counsel had sought gag order on media. They requested from the court for issuing directives for media not to publish any report regarding the matter. We objected to it, citing an order by SC. He also stated that the petitioner wanted interim relief which was not granted.
Arguments and defence
Sibal: Raid against Kakkar was political motivated. It was carried out without any concrete ground and information of heavy money transactions.
Defendant: Allegations are baseless. I-T action was coupled with substantial information.
Sibal: Raid against Kakkar harmed his reputation as news regarding same was published by media. Hours before a case was registered, a BJP leader had posted materials found during raid on social media.
Defendant: I-T department did not mention anybody’s name in the release after raid. We are not representing any political leader in the case here and are not responsible for his acts. Besides, he has also not been made respondent in the petition.
Sibal: I-T department’s Delhi unit does not have any jurisdiction to conduct raid in Indore. Section 132 of I-T Act gives limited powers to I-T officials.
Defendant: Section 132 permits I-T officials to conduct raid in any part of the country.
Sibal: Why Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were deployed during the raid and not state police.
Defendant: Kakkar was an ex-police officer. I-T department thought that if the local police were deployed in the raid then information could have been leaked.
Sibal: For 48 long hours, the raid continued but nothing ‘objectionable’ was found with us. Proper documents were produced to whatever found in the raids.
Defendant: There would have been no case if nothing would have been found. I can’t reveal more than this as of now.