Uddhav Thackeray's ex-aide Ajoy Mehta's flat purchase under tax lens

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Mumbai, Jul 21 (PTI) The Income Tax Department has sent a show cause notice to a Pune builder who had sold a tony Nariman Point apartment to Ajoy Mehta, ex-principal advisor to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, for Rs 5.33 crore last October through an alleged benami transaction.

Mehta, the chairman of MahaRera (Maharashtra Real Estate Regulatory Authority), had purchased the apartment from the Pune-based Anamitra Properties, alleged to be a shell company that is not doing any business, according to the tax department.

The tax department issued the notice on July 7 to Anamitra, which according to the records had sold the flat to Mehta in October 2020 in the Samta Cooperative Housing Society in the upscale Nariman Point central business district of the megapolis for Rs 5.33 crore.

The notice was issued under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act of 1988, saying the transaction that led to Anamitra's acquisition of the apartment at B5, Samta Cooperative Housing Society, for Rs 4 crore in May 2009, was a 'benami' deal as its two listed shareholders are 'people of low means' living in chawls in western suburbs of the city.

Issued by initiating officer Pooja Gabriyal, the notice also said that the 'owners' of Anamitra have also 'denied their knowledge of ownership under oath' regarding the apartment. A reply has been sought from Anamitra within 15 days.

The tax department's allegation against Mehta is that the apartment was owned by the shell entity 'made only for the purpose of holding benami properties'.

Mehta could not be contacted for comments.

Mehta, a 1984-batch IAS officer, was Thackeray's principal advisor from July 2020 until his appointment as MahaRera chairman in February 2021. He had also served as the Chief Secretary from May 2019 to June 2020, and was also the BMC Commissioner from 2015 to 2019.

According to the notice, one of the shareholders of Anamitra, Kamesh Nathuni Singh, who owns 99 per cent stake with each share carrying a face value of Rs 100, in fact, lives in the Shyamnarayan Chawl, Vittbhatti, near the Oberoi Mall in Goregaon in the western suburb of the megapolis.

The second shareholder, Dipesh Ravindra Singh, who is a resident of the Babunath Pandaya Chawl near JVLR, Jogeshwari-E, has shown an income of only Rs 1.71 lakh in his sole income tax return filed for the assessment year 2020-21, the notice said.

Further, the notice said in an oath given to the department on July 7 under the Prohibition of Benami Property Transaction Act, both Kamesh Singh and Dipesh Singh said they were 'not aware' of purchasing any shares of Anamitra.

'These shareholders have squarely and categorically denied their knowledge of ownership of Anamitra. Moreover, these are persons of no means with little to show for making transactions involving crores of rupees.

'Therefore, it is clear that their names have been used by some unknown beneficial and real owners to make these transactions,' the notice said.

According to an RoC filing, Anamitra has an authorised and paid up capital of Rs 1 lakh each, of which 99 per cent was held by Kamesh Singh and the rest by Dipesh Singh.

The notice also said the financial profile of Anamitra reveals that it is not doing any business and had no income in the past three years ending assessment year 2019-20. From this, it can be concluded that Anamitra is a shell entity made only for the purpose of holding benami properties and is treated as a 'benamidar', the notice added.

As per Anamitra's income tax filing, the flat was purchased by it on May 7, 2009 for Rs 4 crore. PTI BEN RAM ABM ABM

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