New Delhi: The income-tax (I-T) department on Wednesday issued summons to Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar in connection with benami land deals in Delhi, Gurugram and Rewari. The two have been asked to appear for questioning on 6 and 7 June.
The summons came just a day after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) arrested Misa Bharti’s chartered accountant Rajesh Agarwal under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
The I-T department’s move comes after senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Sushil Kumar Modi alleged on Tuesday that Bharti had laundered money through a shell company to buy a farmhouse in New Delhi’s Bijwasan area at a price much lower than the market price.
“During the investigation under PMLA, it was revealed that unaccounted money to the tune of Rs62.20 crore was converted into apparently legitimate transactions by way of share subscription through 26 shell companies controlled by Jain brothers (for whom Agarwal was a mediator)," the ED said in a statement on Tuesday.
Speaking to Mint, an RJD leader said the law would take its course but it was not clear whether or not the summons were in connection with the land deals. “It is a fairly natural process that someone is summoned, unless the government has decided to go after political opponents. I find it bizarre that the I-T department has not said categorically that they are being called for the benami deals. We will let it unfold as the law takes its course," said a senior RJD leader, requesting anonymity.
On 16 May, the tax department raided 22 places in and around Delhi in connection with alleged benami property deals involving Lalu Prasad and his children—Bihar deputy chief minister Tejashwi Yadav, health minister Tej Pratap Yadav and Misa Bharti, who is a Rajya Sabha member.
Besides the RJD leader, tax raids were also conducted at the residence of party MP P.C. Gupta and several businessmen and real estate agents in Delhi, Gurugram and Rewari.
On 12 May, Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded at a press conference in New Delhi that the centre investigate the land deals. He alleged that Bharti had failed to disclose these assets in her election affidavit and demanded the Election Commission take action against her.
The minister said the deals dated back to the time when Lalu Prasad was Union railway minister in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and also urged Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to initiate a probe in the matter.