Allahabad HC rejects Shanti Bhushan plea

Allahabad:The Allahabad High Court today turned down a writ petition filed by Team Anna member Shanti Bhushan challenging an order of Assistant Stamp Commissioner here which held him guilty of evading stamp duty to the tune of about Rs 1.35 crore on a property here. Justice Arun Tandon passed the order adding that Bhushan could seek "statutory remedy" by approaching the Registrar (Stamps) as per the provisions of Stamp Act.

The Assistant Stamp Commissioner had, on January 06, held Bhushan guilty of evading stamp duty in purchase of property spread over 7,818 square metres of land in the posh Civil Lines locality of the city. The former Union Minister was asked to pay the outstanding amount with a monthly interest of 1.5 per cent with effect from November 29, 2010 besides being slapped with a fine of more than Rs 27 lakh. He was directed to pay the amount within one month, failing which the department could initiate further action.

Shanti Bhushan, who is also a veteran lawyer, used to stay in a bungalow situated on the land till the 1970s when he moved to New Delhi. He, however, did not give up the possession of the property and remained involved in a protracted litigation with the landlord before purchasing the land through an "agreement to sell" in November, 2010.

It was claimed by the department for stamp and registration that the lawyer had shown purchase of the property for a paltry sum which enabled him to understate its value on which the stamp duty payable was calculated and Rs 46,700 was paid. A notice was issued to Bhushan in February, 2011 for alleged evasion of stamp duty to the tune of nearly Rs 1.35 crore. However, Bhushan has been maintaining that there was no evasion of stamp duty on his part.