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.