IT department seize crores before Punjab polls

Chandigarh: Seizure of huge sum of undisclosed cash in Punjab ahead of Assembly elections has supplemented Income Tax department`s efforts in detecting unexplained income in the shortest time, an I-T official has said.

"The (undisclosed) cash seizure is increasing (in Punjab) and we (Income Tax department) are seizing cash after due verification. In most of the cases, the cash so seized is the unaccounted business income of people which is not accounted for," Income Tax (Investigation), Director, H S Sohi told PTI.

On the directions of Election Commission of India, State Static Surveillance teams have found unaccounted cash amounting to Rs 16.76 crore across Punjab till now since Code of Conduct came into force on December 24, 2011 and out of which about Rs 8 crore has been seized by the Income Tax department.

As per Election Commission`s guidelines, any person carrying cash over Rs 2.5 lakh would have to support the same with evidences during checking.

Significantly, the seizure of more than Rs 8 crore by Income Tax department in just past two weeks in the wake of Punjab Assembly elections on January 30 is almost equal to what the department has seized during its seven search and seizure operations carried out in last nine months over several business premises in the state.
"We have seized cash of Rs 7.70 crore during our search and seizure operations and found undisclosed income of Rs 233 crore so far in current fiscal," Sohi informed.

The confiscation of black money would add to the detection of total unaccounted money by the department in current fiscal.

Several industry verticals including real estate, garments, Pharma, light engineering sector and high value transactions usually remain under the surveillance of Income Tax department to unearth unaccounted income.

Acknowledging that unaccounted cash seizure to prevent its misuse in ensuing state elections have caused panic among people, he said that the movement of undisclosed cash across the state had come down considerably. "There is a significant dent on the movement of cash in past few days because of seizure," he said.

After the seizure of unaccounted money, the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation) sends a detailed report to the respective assessing officers who are required to initiate the process of assessment against persons from whom cash was seized.

However, he said that people have now become conscious after huge sum of confiscation of money and they are now carrying proper evidence of cash to prevent its seizure.

Confiscation of huge amount of unaccounted cash by surveillance teams to curb "misuse of money power" have caused furore among industry verticals in Punjab, with its representatives complaining of cash seizure hurting business transactions while terming it as "sheer harassment".