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Moneylife » Life » Public Interest » Both CA and legal fraternity aggrieved over SK Tulsiyan

Both CA and legal fraternity aggrieved over SK Tulsiyan

Moneylife Digital Team | 10/01/2012 06:21 PM | 

Kolkata-based advocate SK Tulsiyan, known in the I-T circles as a CA, is under the CBI scanner for allegedly using his connection to obtain favourable orders from the Income-Tax department and ITAT

Both chartered accounts (CAs) and lawyers are angry over the highly influential SK Tulsiyan, an advocate who is often, mistakenly referred to as a CA. According to reports from the Indian Express, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is set to file a charge-sheet against Mr Tulsiyan of SK Tulsiyan & Co and a member of the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT). About two years ago, the CBI had asked the revenue department of the finance ministry to conduct an inquiry to determine if orders issued by the ITAT in around 75 cases, where private parties benefitted at the expense of the government, were in accordance with the law or not.
 
However, this is not the first time Mr Tulsiyan has been in the news. In fact he is notorious among tax evaders and has also been in trouble earlier. But each time he got away. In May 2008, the CBI caught Jugal Kishore, an accountant member with the tribunal, red-handed while accepting Rs30 lakh from representatives of SK Tulsiyan and Co. According a report from the Times of India, Mr Tulsiyan managed to obtain favourable orders by bribing or threatening officials from the Income Tax (I-T) department, especially the ITAT that works under the law ministry.
 
Citing a case involving a well-known company, an official told the newspaper that, “The matter was represented by some of the best legal brains but they lost. (Mr) Tulsiyan took charge of the case and got the order reversed by filing a miscellaneous application in ITAT. He even had the clout to prevent department representatives from appointing a special counsel to appear for them. Some of the matters were transferred to the ITAT benches where members of his choice were posted.’’

"(Mr) Tulsiyan, who has his offices in Kolkata and Mumbai, is known in the I-T circles as a CA who could get orders in favour of his clients," the ToI reported.

Aggrieved by the arrest of ITAT member and Mr Tulsiyan, one senior advocate SE Dastur, on 6 June 2008 even wrote a letter to the Editor of the Federation of Tax Practitioners Journal. He said, “What is unfortunate is that members practising in the tribunal, at least in Mumbai, did not evince any great sense of disbelief or surprise that there could be an occurrence of this nature.

In the Bar Association members recounted stories of the influence which the advocate concerned commands and the easy access and audience he always has. It is also rumoured that he and his sons have been generous in providing hospitality to members of the tribunal."

In one of the stories on Taxguru.in about effective use of technology in preventing corporate fraud, someone commented that, “Apart from his (Mr Tulsiyan's) erudition and vast legal knowledge, he is the only person who has been the only selfless saviour of the income tax family for three decades, especially in Calcutta and Bombay, by helping officers in times of need—be it transfers and postings or medical emergencies." This comment, however, also highlights the nexus between Mr Tulsiyan and the officials from the I-T department.

According to CA sources, Mr Tulsiyan enjoys luxuries at the cost of his clients. His most preferred accommodation in Mumbai is Hotel Marine Plaza and the client for whom he had flown down from Kolkata had to bear all the expenses.

In 2008, the CBI filed a case against Jugal Kishore, the then member of the ITAT, Ravi Tulsiyan, who is a CA, of SK Tulsiyan & Co, Subash Bajoriya of Mayank Securities and Nishant Jain, after the agency recovered Rs28 lakh from Mr Kishore's residence. The money was allegedly paid to him by Mr Jain on behalf of Mr Subhash and on instructions of the CA firm.

Soon after, the ITAT Bar Association held a meeting of its managing committee in Mumbai, which noted the news reports....
1. that a Member of the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal (Tribunal) based in Kolkata and an advocate have been arrested by the CBI in relation to a bribe said to have been offered by the advocate to the member
2. that the hard discs of 14 computers seized from the premises of the advocate were removed prior to the seizure
3. that the discs have been recovered from the residence of an employee of the advocate.

However, except for resolving not to interfere in the ongoing investigation and requesting that the Bar Council of India (may) to look into the matter and take appropriate steps as may be considered necessary, the association could not do much.

Later, the CBI found the missing hard-disks of all the computers seized from SK Tulsiyan & Co. Scrutiny of the disks led to the retrieval of 75 documents that showed striking similarity with 69 orders issued by ITATs in Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati and six orders issued by Commissioner of Income Tax (Appeals) of Kolkata during 2006 to 2008. To their shock, the CBI found that these documents were created even before the issuance of the orders from the ITAT and almost all were written by the firm. Especially, the orders (about 12) issued by Mr Kishore, were prepared at Mr Tulsiyan's office and then transferred the ITAT member for delivering the judgement.
 
While Mr Kishore was suspended pending investigation, Mr Tulsiyan is now out on bail. Apart from Mr Tulsiyan, his son Ravi Tulsiyan and brother Sajjan Kumar Tulsiyan will also be named in the charge-sheet. Kolkata-based businessman Mr Bajoriya and the middleman Mr Jain are also among those who will be charge sheeted before a Kolkata court by the CBI.

"I am fully aware that the judgements of the tribunal often display learning of a high order. The activities of a few, however, tarnish the image of all. It is indeed sad if a professional person’s activities have created this unfortunate situation," the senior advocate wrote in his letter.


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14 Comments
MK Gupta

MK Gupta 2 years ago

There is a sudden spurt in activities in this matter which is perhaps due to the article having come to the notice of the ex- and serving IT people and some conscientious (sic) practitioners. Any way, this is undoubtedly a good and welcome sign. Practice of law and accountancy has become indeed very murky for the kind of money involved in both, the former usually making bigger kills. Wherever there is scent of money, the path mast be sinewy and slippery, as John Grisham among others has been showing. There cannot be any Darrel now, nor will ever be another Lord Denning! We also know of the allegations made by lawyers living in glasshouses against judges, while the facts about big talking, moralising, anti-graft legal professionals taking fees mainly in cash and only token amounts in cheque are too well known too. The point is that, the moral fibre of the society is so fragile that everybody appears naked. Look at the media photos/TV pictures, cinemas and the competition to drop clothes. See the propensity to get publicity by building skyrise residences with elaborate securuty arrangements and the unnoticed growth of a class of new service providers--the bodyguards, male and female! In fact, showing off your security-level and the number of bodybuilders with huge bodies and heights is the latest fad. And none of the expenditure on all this ever booked! And our holier-than-thou lawyers speak ill of Sonia and her family for enjoying at State cost lifelong security cover and getting away with whatever the FAMILY wants to say or do! Let the crusaders from the legal fraternity first heal themselves, before throwing stones against the corrupt, since the whole nation is corrupt. What is the net contribution of Anna Hazare? Has govt. taken action against the IRS officer for indiscipline and has the govt. alsop clarified as to who permitted him to go to Manila to accept the Magsaysay award? Why blame Tulsiyan who also wanted a mere share in the loot? What about, in particular, the officers (both male and female) who vied for currying his favour for decades? If he is blamed for corrupting the officers then the latter should not have been recruited in the first place and should have been exposed before turning the heat on Tulsiyan. Come to think of it, he has contributed in the growth of wealth in the community of IRS/IAS/CSS offices for a very long time and deserves acclaim instead!

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nagesh kini

nagesh kini 2 years ago in reply to MK Gupta

I have yet to hear of any Lawyer being raided or arrested? Any guess why?

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AB

AB 2 years ago in reply to nagesh kini

Need not guess, the reasons are too open and public. It is too dangereous for any govt. to touch a lawyer for obvious reasons which, due to the sensitivity syndrome of all who rise from the legal practice, should not be discussed in the open/public forum.

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Tira T

Tira T 2 years ago

I have read with awe the detailed comments of C.Jyoti and the brief remarks of AB. The income tax department, like the police, the sales tax, the municipal offices, the public utility services, everything that happens to be under/relating to the govt. is thoroughly corrupt. I had myself seen some years ago in Indore the conduct of the topmost IT boss in that city and I still shudder at the idea of that lowly creature having at all been selected by the UPSC. I later came to know that he was under the purchased protection of the higher echelons of power. So, Tulsiyans are really numereous. A practising friend from Calcutta read this article and informed me that the person named was only for show banned and disbarred by the CBDT as he continued to appear before officers and ITAT all over the country during the period of disbarment, without filing any power of attorney or authorisation. In other words, every IT authority from the CBDT down to the lowest functionary in the tax deptt and ITAT knows his clout even today and has no courage to refuse to entertain this person or anyone representing him, including the peons working in the office known as a CA firm, though he is an advocate. Could he become this all powerful unless allowed the platitude by the CBDT, Revenue deptt., Ad. VI section, all CCITs and ministers ? Even CBI did not have the courage to touch him and the Calcutta CBI office was known to be very close to him. In fact, he saved many corrupt officers of the deptt. from vigilance cases, CVC, etc. How many retired ITAT Vice-Presidents/CCITs were employed by him on fat salaries for years itself will show his power and influence. He even got many of them post-retirement assignments with statutory bodies. Helped them in their times of medical emergencies, daughters'marriage, sons' education in India and abroad, apart from providing fleet of cars to not only local officers but visiting officers from the CBDT/Deptt of Revenue, CVC, Vig. Directorate, ITAT, their friends and relatives and even paid for their trips in India and abroad. Many Calcutta officers for years lived literallyon the crumbs thrown by him, including some very prominent lady officers. Like an ex ITO in the 70s and 80s in Calcutta,'he also exercises great control over t5he Writers'Bldg, courtesy the IAS officers in the Deptt of Revenue and the contemporaries of IRS officers in the IAS. Despite all this philanthropic work, it is sad that he alone is target ted in his bad time, whereas many leading professionals with respectability also engaged him before CIT(A)s, CCITs and ITAT/CBDT to get unlawful/illegal benefits for their clients. I hope the authorities concerned are aware of all this.

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AB

AB 2 years ago

Why is it common to see only a particular group of professionals always winning before CIT(A) and ITAT, etc.?

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N Dey

N Dey 2 years ago in reply to AB

AB appears to be too naive. Every one knows the reasons why only a few and known persons must always win cases before statutory authorities. Not only in India, but all the world over, even in the US, this has been going on. In the police, IT offices, Sales Tax Deptt. , Bldg. permission sections in the municipalities (like the MCD), Delhi Jal Board, BSES, RTOs, Rationing offices, Birth/Death certificates issuing offices, there are dalals who alone can get anything done, even legal things. DDA is a bit more open--where there are middlemen of status and officers and staff openly demand, receive and count money. They also declare they don't care if CBI is watching as even CBI officers want DDA allotments. The episode under discussion speaks volumes of the legal and accountancy profession and certainly about the culture in the IT deptt. From the top to bottom.

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CJyoti

CJyoti 2 years ago

SK Tulsiyan’s is but a representative case of the manner in which the judicial and administrative systems function in India. For ages, people like this person, alternately known as Adv. And CA both as it suits the person(s) concerned, have been virtually running the administration of the CBDT and the Income Tax Department, especially in centres like Mumbai, Delhi and KOLKATA-the source of all scams in India. In the early 1970s, it was another set of practitioners who managed and operated the huge moneymaking industry in the IT Deptt., known as the AGT (Annual General Transfers), the dividends of which are wellknown to be shared among the top most officers in the North Block (Revenue Deptt., especially the Ad. VI section in the CBDT) and this is the established practice. The incident of a Chennai-based CA caught in such a cash-for-transfer tacket during the regime of a particular MOS(F), since hushed up, is only a part of this culture in the central revenue department (read:the Indian Revenue Service). Blaming SK Tulsiyan alone will be miscarriage of justice and a most perverse approach to the malaise prevailing in the country as a whole. Tulsyans and Krishnamurthies are the product of the culture and mindset of the Central Secretariat Service, the political masters, the corrupt IRS bosses from top to bottom and, of course, the IAS who ultimately run the entire country. For, politicians may come and go, but the IAS remain for ever.

I must, however, congratulate the Moneylife Digital Team for producing this brilliant piece which deserves wider circulation among the legal and accountancy professionals. Not one word written in this article can be rebutted by the Law Ministry, Deptt. Of Revenue, CSS/IAS lobby in the CBDT and the CBDT itself. The only point that one would like to make is that, review of only 75 orders of the ITAT (which is a disgrace in the judicial machinery in the country) is a farce as the “purchased”orders would come to a few lakhs over the years. This is because, even assessment and appellate orders of the deptt. (made by the corrupt IT officers) are also similarly obtained and at least 99% of all the ITAT decisions all over the country are purchased by the agents called professionals. There are scores of IRS officers in the ranks of CCIT down to ITO who are still on the payroll of such persons many of whom even had had the fortune of attending some Olympic/Asiad/Commonwealth games abroad just by keeping on the right side of the accused while many such people in the profession remain untouched for their skillful handling of the Ministry/Govt. top brass. In fact, the orders of all CIT(Appeals) and of CCITs (in certain cases) must be scrutinized on wholesale with reference to the representatives appearing before them. Even today, postings and transfers in the CBDT (like the ITAT, etc.) are mere commodities with a very lucrative market and people involved in the Central Secretariat or in the CCA’s offices make crores with impunity. This is indeed the established and accepted practice.

There are, in addition to SK Tulsiyans, several other top employees representing very big business houses for decades have been enjoying bloodcurdling clout as regards transfers and POSTINGS. In fact, honest officers remain in their posts/stations only at the pleasure of such influential persons, either in the profession and/or in business houses. The ruling business house controlling this market (of transfer-postings) in the IAS-IPS-IRS (both IT and Custms/Central Excise)/Commerce/Company Affairs, etc., however is open about this market.

Coming to the case under discussion, there are several branded IRS officers in Kolkata who have been known for ages to have been stooges of such people. And most eagerly and readily did they accept their roles of being stooges. Why still their vigilance cases remain pending and they are allowed to be promoted, to honourably retire and even made members of cushy statutory bodies after retirement, is no more a mystery. The sad part is the farce or circus of Anna Hazare ignoring these naked truths.

Thank you, Moneylife, for the courage of conviction and publishing this story.

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AB

AB 2 years ago in reply to CJyoti

C Jyoti appears to have refrained him from writing more on this cancer of the most profitable "transfer-posting"business. Actually, this is a very murky business where no investment is needed and no risk whatever is involved. What is sold by the officers seeking these postings is their "dignity", oif they ever had any of course!

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nisban

nisban 2 years ago in reply to AB




One wonders, in the context of the media coverage of the report of CBI's delayed filing of cases against an intriguing professional and the comments herein, if the practice of touting/procuring orders from the IT authorities (especially the Tribunal called ITAT) has stopped after the arrest of the member of ITAT and the unearthing of the mystery of the success of the professional. One recalls reading about an ITP in the South who created an unimpeachable clout and an empire of prosperity despite failed search actions by the CBI and IT people. Nothing deterred the person, masquerading as an "AUDITOR" from expanding his influence on the "sellers of favourable orders" under the Income tax act. Same way, nothing may happen in decades in this case, except that the ITAT member, who must have purchased his appointment itself by paying huge sums, would have lost his job and face both, unless huge sums already obtained had been safely stashed away elsewhere. The point is, nothing will stop in India this liaisoning between dispensers of favours and middlemen, called advocates, CAs, agents, consultants, whatever. Many judicial authorities also had to face the ignominy of getting stuck in the media glare in this regard. Except very small fries (and, that too, those without political support or Godfathers), nothing really happens against those who are able to "invest" enough to keep themselves safe. Tulsiyan, as rightly commented by one of your readers, is just one in thousands of unfortunates getting caught and, as the saying goes, "give the dog a bad name and hang him" syndrome has sought to temporarily damage his own and his "firm's" name. It is a fact that, the CBDT did not debar partners of the firm or the firm as a whole and neither the ICAI nor the Bar Council of India or even the Law ministry has raised questions as to how an Advocate and CAs can form a partnership firm under one name! And, what about the action taken or contemplated, if at all, against the officers who raised this man and patronised him being at his beck and call and in his debt ? There are still hundreds of officers in receipt of regular payments from him or such persons all over the country. There are ITAT members who even "refer" cases to particular CAs/Advocates through whom alone they receive money and in whom they have confidence. Some CAs are so powerful and dangereously influential that they fully control certain Benches of the ITAT in certain stations. In one Bench, twenty persons have been posted (obviously st the instance of those dangereously influential professionals on whose payroll the members live and prosper) despite judicial orders against their postings to these Benches. Law ministry is a party to this blatant and glaring instance of disregard for judicial embargo. CBDT, on the other hand, does everything to assist such professionals as the flow of money from them to the bureaucrats from top to bottom id free and unlimited!
Thus, Mr. Tulsiyan, the doyen of the IT Bar in Kolkata at least, is a mere scapegoat for whom all beneficiaries of his largesse really shed tears, and rightly so. After all, CAs/Advocates in tax practice, pay to the real bureaucrats too, viz., the IAS. The IRS are mere serfs of the IAS and, of course, the big business houses and the influential professionals, also known as "merchants of transfer-postings"!
Moneylife sadly has taken up a subject which has lost all relevance not unlike the Anna Hazare movement.

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GOPAL KRISHAN GARGIEYA

GOPAL KRISHAN GARGIEYA 2 years ago

what happened to deniability of income tax tribunal to we all respect over the year at jodhpur RAJASTHAN BENCH NO POSTING OF REGULAR MEMBERS OVER PERIOD OF TIME

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