Mangaluru, Aug 05: "Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Arun Jaitley have spoken about tax terrorism in the past. Recently Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman spoke about it. The government is concerned about tax terrorism. But what has the government done to stop it."
This was the response of Chairman at Aarin capital and co-founder of Akshaya Patra Mohandas Pai in an interview with Firstpost when asked about the report in The Telegraph wherein Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairperson and managing director Biocon, told the newspaper that she had received a call from a ’government official’ regarding issues such as income tax harassment after the death of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha.
"He (the government official) just said that ’please don’t make such statements. Even Mohandas Pai should not. I am telling you as a friend’," Shaw told The Telegraph on Saturday.
Pai clarified that he did not get any such calls but was informed about it by his friend Mazumdar-Shaw.
Pai said that such calls were made to several persons and it was not shocking when he heard about it from Shaw. However, he said, since there is no evidence that on whose behest these calls were made, no one can blame the political establishment or the government.
Tax terrorism has been going on since the UPA days, Pai said. "This has been going on for 20 years. Both the UPA and the NDA have failed to do anything about it. The death of VG Siddhartha should be a wake-up call for this government to stop it. But what have they done", he asked.
Taking to Twitter, Pai also said:
In 2014, Jaitley had said the government would end tax terrorism. "The tax terrorism prevailing in the country is dangerous. One can’t run the government by thinking that everyone is a thief," he had said.
Pai, Shaw vocal about income tax harassment
Pai and Shaw have been vocal about income tax harassment after the death of CafÃ© Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha.
The phone call from the ’government official’ to Mazumdar-Shaw is reflective of the attitude of government officials, Pai said. "They seem to believe that they are the rulers and we, the people, should listen to them. They will not hear any criticism. What is worse is that the political leaders and the government do not stand for its citizens or protect them from such officials," he said.
He recalled the time when he, as a Chief Financial Officer of Infosys, had to speak with the Internal Revenue Service in the US, Japan among other countries and how they treated him and Infosys with respect and dignity. "After the matter was resolved, the officials came and thanked us for giving them the data. If any citizen is treated badly in the US, for instance, the citizen can go to the senator who will take up the issue. However, this is not the case in India. Here, businessmen are treated as crooks," he said.
He said the Income Tax Department released a statement stating that Siddhartha had confessed to having stashed income after raids were conducted against him and his concerns. Anyone would confess to the Income Tax Department if coerced or not given food or water and terrorised, Pai said. "Why did the Income Tax Department even say what it did? It is a total misuse of power. The issue is the political establishment is keeping quiet."
Pai said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had spoken about tax terrorism. "Very senior government officials have told me that PM Modi has called secretaries and asked them to stop tax terrorism. But they have to now sit up and act," he said.
Pai feels one of the reasons why the officials have become bold is because there is a new set of leaders who have become legislators and are not aware of their rights and duties. They do not interact with their constituency. They need to be trained about it, he said. They must learn to exercise power and not let bureaucrats do that, he reiterated.