Mahesh Shah, an Ahmedabad-based businessman, has disappeared after disclosing unaccounted income of around ₹13,000 crore under the Centre's Income Declaration Scheme (IDS). According to the Times of India, the businessman from Gujarat lived in a 4-BHK apartment in an old building in Ahmedabad. The Income tax department had carried out search operations at Shah's residence and his chartered accountant Tehmul Sethna's office and residence from 29 November to 1 December.
"The last time I talked to Shah was on 29 November in the presence of I-T officials. Ever since, he is inaccessible," Sethna, a partner in the 90-year-old CA firm Appaji Amin & Co, told TOI on Friday. Shah was a land dealer with business interests in Mumbai, Pune and Gujarat. He had voluntarily declared his unaccounted income on 30 September, which was the last date for disclosures under IDS.
The first instalment of the tax imposed on his declared income was due on 30 November, which he forgot to pay. However, the IT department ended up cancelling his form and declaring the money 'black' on 28 November itself.
According to the TOI report, Sethna felt that Shah's declaration form was cancelled as the IT officials, after carrying out a search operation, felt that he would be unable to pay the amount. However, the IT Department denied such claims and said that there was no co-relation between Shah's IDS declaration and the search operations.
"It was sheer coincidence that premises of Shah and his business associates were among 67 places searched following market intelligence about illegal currency exchange in Ahmedabad after demonetisation. We had no inkling of Shah's disclosure under IDS, which is being handled by the assessment branch and is confidential. We have seized ₹40 lakh in cash and jewellery worth ₹30 lakh from Shah's business associates," a senior I-T officer told TOI.
Shah's son Monitesh has reported that his father is in Mumbai currently, but says he has no idea about his exact whereabouts.
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