Read Order: Deputy Director of Income Tax v. Raninder Singh 

LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 11, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed a trial court in Ludhiana not to proceed further in income tax evasion cases against Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his son Raninder Singh.

The High Court took note of the Income Tax department’s submission that the trial court is likely to pass a fresh order in the matter in view of the revisional court’s November 2018 order that had quashed the summons issued to the father-son duo, which is subject matter of challenge regarding the admissibility of the digital information. 

Both respondents, though aware of the proceedings before the High Court, have not appeared before the court as notice could not be served on them since 2019 when the High Court took cognisance of the matter.

The HC said if the trial court passes further order, it “would cause grave prejudice since the respondents have not put in appearance herein being unserved but aware of the proceedings before this Court, which would be clear from the order dated 20.07.2021, passed by the CJM, Ludhiana”.

“This court is of the opinion that the CJM should not pass any further orders,” the bench of Justice GS Sandhawalia stated, while posting the matter for further hearing on November 18. 

The bench also directed that the Income-Tax department as well as the accused be served notices for the adjourned date.

The Chief Minister and his son are both facing three cases concerning allegations of amassing wealth in foreign countries.

The I-T department has claimed that the chief minister’s son is a direct beneficiary of the assets maintained and controlled through foreign business entities. These include accounts with HSBC Private Bank, Geneva. Raninder is also a trustee of the UK-based Jacaranda Trust. However, the CM and Raninder have denied any association with these entities.

Following the I-T department’s petition, in April 2017 the Ludhiana trial court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Jaapinder Singh had summoned CM Amarinder Singh and Raninder to attend court hearings and face trial in the three cases filed against them for alleged tax evasion and amassing wealth in foreign countries.

However, claiming that they were wrongly summoned, the father-son moved revision petitions in the upper court. In November 2018, the court of Additional Sessions Judge Rajeev K Beri quashed the summon orders passed by the trial court.

In 2019, the Income Tax department moved the High Court against the order issued by the court of ASJ Beri.

During the last hearing, the I-T department had told the HC bench that the trial court is likely to pass the final order on the stay of the proceedings that is now restricted by the bench of Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia.

“The trial Court is likely to pass a fresh order, keeping in view the observations made on 27.11.2018, which is subject matter of challenge herein regarding the admissibility of the digital information and thus, would cause grave prejudice since the respondents have not put in appearance herein being unserved but aware of the proceedings before this Court, which would be clear from the order dated 20.07.2021, passed by the CJM, Ludhiana,” the HC said.

“Keeping in view the above, this Court is of the opinion that the CJM should not pass any further orders on the complaint which has been remanded to him. Let the respondents (CM and his son), as per the office report, be served by way of dasti process, for the date already fixed in the main case, i.e. 18.11.2021,” stated the bench.

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