Uttar Pradesh government not targeting Big B: official

April 1st, 2008 - 5:47 pm ICT by admin  

Lucknow, April 1 (IANS) Refuting allegations that the Mayawati government was “unduly harassing” Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, a top Uttar Pradesh bureaucrat Tuesday said the action against the actor for evading a marginal stamp duty was “routine”. The Uttar Pradesh government had slapped a notice on Big B for evading Rs.690 in stamp duty on registration of land bought in Barabanki for a college named after his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The case came up for hearing Monday.

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and Amitabh’s wife Jaya Bachchan alleged that it was “political vendetta” by the Mayawati government on account of their close proximity to the opposition Samajwadi Party.

But a top government official told IANS: “Action would follow in a routine manner against anyone charged of undervaluing a property with a view to chopping off the stamp duty payable against a deal.”

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “I fail to understand how the media was trying to establish a connection between the action initiated by the Barabanki additional district magistrate (finance) and the dismissal of a Special Leave Petition moved by the state government against a high court order giving Bachchan a clean chit in a land scam in Barabanki district (about 40 km from here).”

The Bachchan family laid the foundation stone of the college on the plot of land Jan 27 at a high-profile bash in the village where they also flew in prominent politicians like Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, the party’s leader Amar Singh, former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala and former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah.

The official said: “The first notice for underpayment of stamp duty was issued to Bachchan way back on Dec 26, 2007, while the Supreme Court had dismissed the state government’s petition March 31.”

When his attention was drawn to the fact that the underpayment was only Rs.690, he shot back: “If you look into land records of any village or town, you will find umpteen such cases filed for violation of the Stamp Duty Act.”

While giving a detailed account of the case against Amitabh Bachchan, Barabanki ADM (finance) Shrish Dube told IANS: “Bachchan had purchased three bighas (0.810 hectares) of land in Daulatpur village of Barabanki district that was registered in his name July 13, 2007 for a declared consideration of Rs.837,000.”

Dubey said: “Subsequently during a routine cross-check, which is done in most sale deed cases, we discovered that the plot had been undervalued; as such, the stamp duty should have been paid on a value of Rs.843,695 as against Rs.837,000 shown by Bachchan.”

The case was listed for hearing before the ADM Monday.

Bachchan’s counsel Ram Gopal Shukla sought to argue that the marginal difference in the valuation was attributed to the existence of a few date-palm trees on the land.

“Even if the officially estimated value was to be taken into account, the matter was too trivial. And considering that the chargeable stamp duty was only 10 percent, the total alleged default would not exceed Rs.690,” he said.

The ADM has fixed May 4 for the next hearing in the case.

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