Income Tax sleuths on Saturday conducted searches at the premises of senior DMK leader Duraimurugan in Vellore district over suspected use of unaccounted money for electioneering and seized Rs 10.50 lakh of alleged “excess” cash.
Incriminating material, including electronic data storage devices were seized and the search operations have been concluded, income Tax department sources said.
High drama was witnessed when DMK legal cell functionaries refused to allow teams of the tax department’s election surveillance and monitoring and district static surveillance and flying squads to hold searches without a “warrant“.
Senior tax officials, later, armed with search warrants, conducted the raids.
Searches were conducted at Duraimurugan’s residence, where some printouts with ward numbers written over them were found, but the “main person,” indicating the assessee, has dismissed them as “junk” and further questioning is on, a highly placed sources in tax investigation wing told PTI.
About Rs 19 lakh cash was found. After allowing cash declared in the election affidavit, an amount of Rs 10.50 lakh was “determined as excess” and seized, the source said.
“We did not conceal anything,” Duraimurugan told PTI , adding that all his family members are income tax assessees.
The DMK leader said it was common to have cash on hand.
The searches come days after similar raids led to a political storm in neighbouring Karnataka.
Tax department sources said searches were carried out in the campus of colleges run by the Duraimurugan Educational Trust and a farmhouse said to belong to a close confidant.
The IT department officials, along with personnel from the election flying squad, arrived late last night at the residence of the DMK treasurer.
IT department sources earlier in the day indicated that the searches were carried out to detect suspected tax evasion, vis-a-vis use of unaccounted money for electioneering.
The DMK has fielded Duraimurugan’s son, D M Kathir Anand, from Vellore seat in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
Duraimurugan alleged that the raids were a ‘conspiracy’ by some political leaders who could not face them in the electoral arena.
“They (tax officials) have gone with the understanding that we have nothing (to hide),” he told reporters.
The DMK leader also questioned the timing of the raid.
“This is not the time to hold searches, be it tax or other authorities, when we are in the midst of a full-fledged election campaign,” he said.
The sources said the tax investigation wing was requested by Vellore district election authorities to accompany them to hold searches and they provided inputs as well.
When the teams arrived at the DMK leader’s house they faced opposition.
Officials told the DMK legal team that they had an “official memorandum” issued by top authorities and later tax officials also got search warrants issued.
DMK president M K Stalin condemned the searches and alleged it was a misuse of power by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He demanded measures to bring departments like the Income tax, the Enforcement Directorate and CBI under the ambit of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the run up to the general elections if the objective was to prevent “distribution of money.”
The tax sleuths had carried out pre-dawn raids at 15 to 20 locations in Karnataka, including Bengaluru, Mandya,Mysuru, Hassan, Ramanagar and Shivamogga, on Thursday.
Karnataka Minor Irrigation minister C S Puttaraju and his nephew and close associates of PWD minister H D Revanna were among those whose premises were raided.
Later, Congress and JD(S) leaders led by Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister G Parameshwara and former chief minister Siddaramaiah had staged a demonstration in Bengaluru against the raids.