Chennai: AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa, her aide Sasikala and a firm in which they are partners have together paid Rs 1.99 crore as compounding fee, setting in motion the process for the closure of an 18-year-old Income Tax case against them.
While Jayalalithaa paid Rs 30,83,887 lakh, Sasikala paid Rs 28,07,972 to compound alleged offences under Income Tax Act for non-compliance in filing annual tax returns, both for the 1993-94 assessment year, a court here was apprised today.
Sasi Enterprises paid Rs 75,33,330 and Rs 65,67,872 as compounding fee for 1991-92 and 1992-93 assessment years.
Taken together, a fee of Rs 1,99,90,000 has been remitted in favour of tax authorities to compound alleged offences.
Out of the compounding fee, prosecution establishment charges and litigation expenses, the three heads under which tax authorities had directed payments to be made, the charges towards litigation stood the highest.
Jayalalithaa, for instance, paid compounding fee of Rs 7,52,637, prosecution establishment charges of Rs 50,000 and litigation expenes of Rs 22,81,250.
A request to compound offences was made on June 25 this year to tax authorities by Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and Sasi Enterprises.
The Income Tax department's Regional Compounding Committee in its November 26 meeting, decided to accept the request, subject to remittance of the stipulated fee. On Nov 27, the payments were made.
Special Public Prosecutor Ramasamy K said that the case against Jayalalithaa, Sasikala and Sasi Enterprises will now come to an end.
"The Regional Compounding Committee will pass a final order as required under the law," he said, adding the "prosecution will be withdrawn," formally after that order and the court will be "petitioned appropriately."
When the income tax cases against Jayalalithaa and Sasikala came up today before Additional Judge, A Kayalvizhi, petitions were filed by the defence seeking two weeks adjournment.
Following a plea to tax authorities to compound offences, the petitioners were directed to pay compounding fee and it was done, the court was informed.
Now the authorities have to pass a final order as stipulated in the Income Tax Act 1961.
"Therefore, until the final order is passed in the said compounding application, further proceedings before this honourable court may not be proceeded."
Also,the personal appearance of the petitioners to answer questions and for framing charges "may not be warranted" till the final order in the compounding application is passed, it was submitted.
The Special Public Prosecutor raised no objection as the compounding plea was accepted by tax authorities and also the fee was paid. He noted that "final order is yet to be passed, hence no objection for petitions seeking adjournment for two weeks."
After hearing both sides, Judge Kayalvizhi posted the matter to Dec 11. The case will be heard at the court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate.
The Income Tax department had launched criminal proceedings against Jayalalithaa and Sasikala for allegedly not filing returns in their individual capacity for the assessment year 1993-94.
Complaints were also filed by the IT department against Sasi Enterprises represented by its partners, Jayalalithaa and Sasikala for allegedly failing to file returns for the assessment years 1991-92 and 1992-93.
Discharge petitions filed by the accused were later dismissed by the Madras High Court. Jayalalithaa and Sasikala preferred appeals before the Supreme Court.
Dismissing their appeals on Jan 30, the apex court had directed the lower court to complete the trial in four months.
After that, several petitions seeking exemption from personal appearance and adjourments were filed by defence.
On April 10, the court had directed Jayalalithaa and Sasikala to appear before it on April 28 for framing of charges and answering questions.
However, both did not turn up and adjournment petitions were filed, citing the Supreme Court order granting three more months for completion of trial.
Meanwhile, petitions were filed with tax authorities, requesting compounding of offences and it was also brought to the notice of the court.
On Sept 18, the ACMM court asked Jayalalithaa and Sasikala to appear before it "without fail" on October 1.
On Sept 24, the Madras High Court allowed dispensation of Jayalalithaa and Sasikala's appearance in the case at the ACMM court.
Madras High Court Judge K B K Vasuki also directed the income tax authorities to dispose the compounding applications filed by Jayalalithaa and Sasikala within six weeks and held that the trial in the case could however continue.
On Sept 27, Jayalalithaa was convicted in a wealth case and jailed in Parapana Agrahara prison in Bangalore and was released on Oct 18 on bail on the orders of Supreme court.
On Oct 1, when the case came up before the ACMM court, it was adjourned to Oct 16 and later to Nov 6. On that day, the matter was posted to December 1.