The Income-Tax department on Thursday informed the Madras High Court that late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha’s Veda Nilayam residence in posh Poes Garden area in Chennai was under attachment for recovery of wealth and income tax dues.
An affidavit filed by the department said her estate (that is her net assets at the time of her death) was in arrears of Rs 16.75 crore and it would have no objection to the Tamil Nadu Government converting her house into a memorial provided it came forward to clear the dues.
The affidavit was filed in response to a public interest litigation filed by Traffic Ramaswamy opposing the move to convert her house into a memorial on the ground that she was a convicted criminal along with her aide V K Sasikala and two others in the disproportionate assets case.
The counter, filed by Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax G Shoba before a division bench comprising Justices Vineet Kothari and Anita Sumant, said that Jayalalitha was in arrears of wealth tax of Rs 10.12 crore from financial year 1990-91 to 2011-12 and income-tax arrears of Rs 6,62 crore from the financial year 2005-06 to 2011-12.
To recover the arrears, the IT department had attached her Poes Garden residence as well as the basement of Parson Complex near Gemini flyover on March 13, 2007. On March 13, 2013, a property belonging to her in St Mary’s Road in Chennai was attached, the IT said( Both the attachments were made before her death in December 2016) .
Furthermore, Jayalalitha’s residence in Srinagar Colony in Hyderabad was attached on July 31, 2007, it said. Counsel for IT Srinivasan told the court that the department would have no objection to conversion of her residence into a memorial provided the tax dues were cleared.
Advocate-General Vijaya Narayan told the court that the Government was ready to settle the dues. Intervening, the court asked how the Government could settle Jayalalitha’s personal dues.
Explaining, the AG said once her land and other assets acquired, her legal heirs like nephew Deepak and niece Deepa would have to pay the dues to the Government to claim their share of the property. From the proceeds, the Government would settle the IT dues, he said.
The judges pointed out that the IT department had only furnished details of her wealth tax dues from the financial year 1990 to 2012 and income tax dues from 2005 to 2012. It was not clear whether she had paid tax for the subsequent financial years, the court observed.
It asked the IT department to file another affidavit clarifying the position. It also asked the Tamil Nadu Government to file an affidavit on the issue and adjourned the case for two weeks.