Former additional solicitor general Bishwajit Bhattacharyya filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday seeking its direction to the Centre to recover around Rs 20,000-crore tax dues from UK telecom major Vodafone Group and restrain the government from going ahead with arbitration on the issue.
Bhattacharyya, who deals with tax matters and was a law officer during the erstwhile United Progressive Alliance regime, mentioned his petition before a vacation Bench headed by Justice Vikramajit Sen which posted the case for hearing on July 1.
Bhattacharyya submitted that the Centre is not implementing the rule amended in 2012 to claim taxes and pleaded with the SC to intervene in the matter by directing the Centre to administer the Income Tax (I-T) Act impartially, even handedly and without fear or favour.
"It amounts to arbitrariness of state action not to enforce law (Section 9 of I-T Act) for 27 months after its enactment. This violates Article 14 of the Constitution," the petition said adding, " Allowing arbitration proceedings under India-Netherland BIPA (Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement) would flagrantly violate rule of law." Bhattacharyya submitted that the I-T Act does not recognise conciliation as a dispute settlement mechanism and the tax dispute does not come within the ambit of BIPA. Recently, the government appointed former Chief Justice of India R. C. Lahoti as arbitrator in the tax dispute. The government's decision was in response to an arbitration notice served by Vodafone International Holdings B. V. in April under BIPA for resolving the dispute. Following the international arbitration notice by Vodafone, the UPA Cabinet had on May 15 approved the withdrawal of a conciliation offer.
Courtesy: Mail Today
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