Taxmen raid on mutt-run institution raises hackles
Income tax (I-T) officials on Thursday searched at least three educational institutions, including BGS Global Institute of Medical Sciences run by Adichunchanagiri Shikshana Trust in Bangalore.
While the I-T department refused to divulge more information, sources said Dr B R Ambedkar Medical College and Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre in Bangalore were also searched.
More than one team of I-T officials carried out the searches early on Thursday to procure documents and other evidence regarding illegal donations received by the institutes. It is noteworthy that BGS Global Institute of Medical Sciences got permission to begin the college on July 2, about three weeks ago.
A senior official from the investigation wing of the I-T department here said: “Yes, we did conduct searches in Bangalore and outside to check on irregularities and violations of the I-T Act.”
Melukote B M Gowda of Adichunchanagiri Mutt said: “A raid was conducted, but we do not know why and cannot comment on it.”
An office on the mutt premises in Vijayanagar was searched. Supporters of the pontiff of the mutt blocked the entry and exit points. People from the Vokkaliga community laid a siege to the building and left only after police intervened, D C Rajappa, DCP (West), said.
Congress MLA D K Shivakumar, who is also from the same community, tried to enter the premises, but was prevented from doing so.
‘Will take matter to Delhi’
Shivakumar said he would take the matter to Delhi. It was the duty of the government to protect mutts which have done more work than the governments in providing food and education.
The sources said documents and other articles procured during the search are being evaluated, following which the I-T department will take action under the I-T Act, 1961.
“The searches are being conducted based on information that some of the institutions are violating the provisions of the I-T Act. At this stage, we cannot ascertain anything. We will evaluate the documents first,” another source said.
Shivaramegowda, chief administrative officer of Sapthagiri Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, said: “We have provided the officials with all the documents they sought, and there is nothing that we fear as the institute is being run in compliance with all rules.”
Anandaa Social and Education Trust, which runs Ambedkar Medical College, and two office-bearers of the Trust were also searched. While there were rumours of some cash being found, no official communication was forthcoming.
Many prominent Vokkaliga leaders, cutting across party affiliations, reacted strongly to the income tax raids on the institution run by Adichunchanagiri mutt.
Former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy saw a conspiracy behind the raid. “It has hurt the sentiments of the people. I condemn it,” he said.
Another former chief minister D V Sadananda Gowda termed it politically motivated. “Such raids on institutions engaged in social cause will send a wrong message to the society,” he added.
BJP legislator C T Ravi said it was unfair to conduct raids on religious institutions which are providing free education and food. “This is nothing short of revenge. What the government has failed to do, mutts have been doing - providing education to children. Why they should be penalised,” he questioned.
In Gulbarga, offices of Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society and the residential premises of its chairman and former MLC Shashil Namoshi were searched.
Reports said I-T officials from Belgaum, Bangalore and Goa, without any prior intimation to the local I-T officials, carried out the searches.
The local I-T officials were tight-lipped about the developments. “The raids have taken place without our knowledge,’’ a local I-T official said. According to sources, the premises of the society in Raichur and Bangalore were also searched.