After more than 48 hours of searches, the IT Department has found income discrepancies worth Rs. 650 crore after raids on Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu. About 168 Income Tax Department officials continued the search on properties connected with the Anurag Kashyap and his leading lady Taapsee Pannu, as well as Kashyap’s partners linked to Phantom Films for the second day. These officials also conducted searches on the properties of two talent management firms: Kwan Entertainment and Exceed Entertainment.
On Thursday, the IT department issued a statement regarding the searches: “The Income Tax Department is carrying out search and survey operations which started on 03.03.2021 on two leading film production companies, a leading actress and two Talent Management companies in Mumbai. The search operation is being carried out at Mumbai, Pune, Delhi and Hyderabad. The group is mainly engaged in the business of Production of Motion Pictures, Web Series, acting, direction and talent Management of celebrities and other artists. A total of 28 premises are being covered in different locations which include residences and offices.”
According to the IT department’s statement, upon comparing the income of Phantom house production house’s films to the actual box office collections, huge income suppressions were unearthed. The statement also confirmed that the company officials were not able to explain the income discrepancy of Rs. 300 crore. Additionally, the raid also unearthed undervaluation of share transactions amongst the 4 filmmakers that have another tax implication of Rs. 350 crore. The IT department in its statement did not name any names, but said that cash receipts that amounted to Rs. 5 crores were also recovered by “the leading actress.”
The trouble of Kashyap and Pannu along with other stakeholders did not seem to end there as the IT department also found evidence of bogus expenditure by “leading producers/directors” that had implications of Rs. 20 crores. The department also found similar evidence for Pannu as well.
Moreover, the IT department’s statement further revealed that the department has also seized digital data of the popular celebrities in question and have put 7 bank lockers under restraint.
“At the office premises of the two talent management companies, huge amount of digital data has been seized in the form of emails, WhatsApp chats, hard disk etc which are under investigation. During the search, 7 bank lockers have been found which have been placed under restraint. Search is continuing in all the premises,” the statement by IT department revealed.
The statement from India’s tax authorities came after the Central Board of Direct Taxes carried raids on the homes and offices of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu along with the former’s partners who launched the now-scrapped Phantom Films.
It should be noted that Pannu and Kashyap are both outspoken critics of the current BJP-led government. Anurag Kashyap has over the years raised his voice against the current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From demanding to view the PM’s political science degree to visiting JNU and Shaheen Bagh protest sites during anti-CAA protests, Kashyap has been vocal on his dissatisfaction with the Modi government.
Taapsee Pannu too has actively come forward against the centre’s decisions, be it during the ongoing farmer’s protest or locking arms on Twitter with actress Kangana Ranaut, who has been the biggest Modi supporter and a flagbearer of the BJP’s vision of turning a secular India into a ‘Hindurashtra’.
Although the timing of raids on Kashyap and Pannu seems too convenient to put the blame on Prime Minister Modi’s government, one should take into account that Kashyap was in the past accused of tax evasion before the Modi government took power. In 2013, Kashyap was amid another tax fraud soup and was accused of tax evasion under the UPA government. The congress, who now stands with Kashyap and has called the IT’s 2021 raid a ‘vendetta’, had charged Kashyap guilty for tax evasion worth Rs. 55 lakh.