The order was extended by a division bench of Justices S V Gangapurwala and S G Dige after the Income Tax department sought more time to file its affidavit in response to Ambani’s petition challenging the notice.
When the petition came up for hearing for the first time on September 26, the HC had granted time till November 17 to the tax department to file its affidavit and had asked it to not take any coercive action against Ambani till then.
On Thursday, the department sought further time, following which the bench adjourned the matter till December 19. The court also said its earlier order (of no coercive action) would continue till then.
The I-T department had issued a notice to Ambani on August 8, 2022, for allegedly evading Rs 420 crore in taxes on undisclosed funds worth more than Rs 814 crore held in two Swiss bank accounts.
As per the department’s notice, Ambani was liable to be prosecuted under Sections 50 and 51 of the Black Money (undisclosed foreign income and assets) Imposition of Tax Act of 2015, which stipulates a maximum punishment of 10 years imprisonment with a fine.
The department has charged Ambani (63) with “wilful” evasion, saying he “intentionally” did not disclose his foreign bank account details and financial interests to Indian tax authorities.
Ambani, in his petition, claimed the Black Money Act was enacted in 2015 and the alleged transactions are of assessment years 2006-2007 and 2010-2011.
According to the I-T department’s notice, Ambani was an “economic contributor as well as beneficial owner” of a Bahamas-based entity called ‘Diamond Trust’ and another company called Northern Atlantic Trading Unlimited (NATU) which was incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The department alleged Ambani “failed to disclose” these foreign assets in his income tax return (ITR) filings and, hence, contravened provisions of Black Money Act, which was brought by the Narendra Modi government soon after it was first elected to power in 2014.
The total value of the undisclosed funds in the two accounts has been assessed by tax officials at Rs 8,14,27,95,784 (Rs 814 crore) and tax payable on this amount at Rs 4,20,29,04,040 (Rs 420 crore). PTI SP BNM BNM