New Delhi: The Income Tax Department has charged six members of Lalu Yadav's family, including his son and Bihar's Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav, wife Rabri Devi and daughter Misa Bharti, with owning benami property under a tough law that attracts seven years in prison and a hefty fine for those found guilty. Rabri Devi is a former chief minister, while Misa Bharti is a member of Parliament.
The tax department is investigating allegations of corrupt land deals worth Rs. 1,000 crore and tax evasion against the Yadav family. The others it has charged under the Benami Transactions Act today are Misa Bharti's husband Shailesh Kumar and sisters Chanda and Ragini Yadav. Tax officials said all six have been served notices of attachment of assets, which identify them as "beneficiaries" of benami property or property purchased in the name of others to conceal who really owns them.
Tejashwi Yadav however said on Tuesday evening that he has received no notice. "All this is an act political vendetta and I will not react every time some speculative news emerges from anonymous income tax sources," he said.
The IT department said it has attached farm houses, land and buildings in Delhi and Patna, including plots in the Bihar capital where a mall was to be built. It has named Tejashwi Yadav as the "benami beneficiary" of a house in south Delhi's posh New Friends Colony along with sisters Chanda and Ragini, and, along with his mother Rabri Devi, of the plots meant for the Patna mall.
Misa Bharti and her husband have been accused of benami ownership of a farm house in Delhi. The couple have earlier skipped IT summons to record their statements.
Tax officials allege that the politically influential family acquired companies that own these properties at prices much lower than market value. The action against the Yadav family, they said, was based on raids conducted in the case last month.
Lalu Yadav has rejected the charges of corruption and has alleged "political vengeance" against his family by the BJP, of which he is a sharp critic. He has said in statements that he is "not scared at all" and will "continue to fight against fascist forces".
Lalu Yadav's party the RJD is a member of the coalition government in Bihar led by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. Both his sons are ministers in the Bihar government.