My suspension is malicious, sinister: Gupta

Published: Thursday, July 27, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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New Delhi: Outspoken Additional Commissioner of Income Tax Vishv Bandhu Gupta was suspended even as he was due for promotion. The suspension was slapped on the IT official ostensibly for mentioning former Indian captain Mohammed Azharuddin's name while replying to a question on the Rs 16 crore declaration under the Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS).

An ardent devotee of Lord Ganesh, Mr Gupta denies mentioning any names. "I am not in the naming business," Gupta told India Abroad News Service in an exclusive interview.

Gupta was first transferred and suspended when he dared to audit Vishwa Hindu Parishad's accounts in 1990. Later, he busted the Romesh Sharma case.

This Sachin Tendulkar fan, however, sees his suspension as a "malicious, sinister move", thanks to a few of his detractors in the department. At the same time, Gupta claims that his other colleagues are with him. He feels that they cannot show their solidarity because IT Laws prohibit them from going on strike.

A vegetarian to the core (rice and rajma is his favorite dish), Gupta composes poetry in English and writes humor and fiction when not "taxing" defaulters. He also edits a privately published magazine on humor called 'Wrong Number', and is also penning a fiction.

On the raids, he says lockers and other incriminating documents were in the possession of players, officials and bookies as they were "careless".

Interestingly, he wants betting to be made legal by the government, but wants rigorous imprisonment for match-fixers. Excerpts from the interview:

What is your the reading of the situation after the countrywide raids on cricketers, administrators and bookies?

Their prosecution, at the insistence of Income Tax Department, is imminent under IT Sections 276 A to 278. Section 276 C deals with a willful attempt to evade tax.

It could lead to rigorous imprisonment of three to seven years, if the amount exceeds Rs 100,000. Under this section, all the players whose houses and premises have been raided are covered.

Section 276 CC deals with failure to file returns of income. Punishment in this also leads to three to seven years' imprisonment. Some players, who have been raided, are covered under this.

And Section 278 deals with abetment of false returns. If any person abets or induces, in any manner, another person to make or deliver an account or statement of income that is false, he shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment, of three to seven years.

Benami lands and wives (of the persons in question) etc., are covered under this section.

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