NEW DELHI—The Income Tax (IT) department is probing the personal finances of Novel Lavasa, former banker and wife of dissenting Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa, News18 reported.
The IT department issued a notice to Novel Lavasa on Monday and it is pertaining to “her income as an independent director of multiple companies”, the same report stated.
The notice was issued for her to “explain certain details in her IT returns (ITR) with regard to holding directorship in about 10 companies,” PTI’s report said. The IT department was probing charges of tax evasion and it wished to “ascertain if her income has escaped assessment in the past or something has been concealed from tax authorities”, the report informed.
The former State Bank of India staffer, in a statement shared with HuffPost India, said she had “paid all taxes” due towards her and “disclosed all income earned by me from pension, and all other sources as per Income Tax law”. There were multiple notices sent by the IT department, the first such notice was sent on August 5, and she had responded to all the notices, her statement informed.
During the Lok Sabha election 2019, Ashok Lavasa had briefly grabbed headlines after he opposed the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) decisions to give clean chit to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Amit Shah on at least five occasions. In all these occasions, Modi and Shah were accused of violating the Model Code of Conduct during their election campaigns.
Lavasa not only dissented in the internal meetings of the ECI, but also insisted that his dissent be recorded in writing. “If decisions of the Election Commission are taken by majority and you do not include the minority view (in the final order) then what is the point of a minority view?” he had said in an interview to The Indian Express.
The background of Lavasa’s past dissent, as well as the forthcoming state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, make the action of the IT department a potential source for much controversy.
The background of Lavasa’s past dissent as well as the forthcoming state elections in Maharashtra and Haryana make the action of the IT department a potential source for much controversy.
When HuffPost India reached out to the official spokesperson of the Central Board of Direct Taxes Surabhi Ahluwalia to understand the reason for the notices, she refused to share any information. When asked if Novel Lavasa was served notice and the reasons for that, Ahluwalia said she, “Neither confirms nor denies” that. She also said the law forbids her from discussing IT returns details of any specific taxpayer publicly.
In a written statement shared with HuffPost India, Novel Lavasa said, “It is stated that I have paid all taxes due towards me and disclosed all income earned by me from pension, and all other sources as per Income Tax law.”
On the issue of directorships in various companies, her statement said, “It is clarified that having served as a Class 1 officer with the State Bank of India for 28 years, and having acquired vast experience in Banking and Development, I continue to be engaged in various professional activites, including as an Independent Director in a few companies.” She closed her statement saying that she has responded to multiple IT notices received since 5 August 2019 and has been “cooperating with the ongoing process of the department”.