ZAHEERA CHALLENGES WHOPPING INCOME TAX CLAIM

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Best Bakery case key witness Zaheera Sheikh has moved the Vadodara Income Tax Tribunal, challenging a recent department order that claimed income tax to the tune of Rs 38 lakh from her.

Zaheera, who was found guilty by both the Supreme Court and the Mumbai trial court for her flip-flops during the hearing in the case, has contested the income tax claim, saying the department had taken into account Rs 18 lakh, which she was allegedly bribed by BJP MLA Madhu Srivastava and his cousin Chandrakant Srivastava, without any evidence.

According to her counsel Atul Mistry, his client had gone on an appeal against the department order as the assessment made for the period from 2003-04 to 2005-06 was in violation of the Income Tax Act.

The appeal was filed before the tribunal on February 28, he added.

The income tax authorities, investigating into Zaheera's bank accounts and her other assets in Mumbai and Vadodara, following the apex court order, had grilled Zaheera for three long hours here on December 28 last and later slapped an income tax claim of Rs 38 lakhs, ordering her to pay the amount by January 31, 2008.

Advocate Mistry said the department had assessed the income of Zaheera at Rs 20 lakhs in 2003-04, Rs 22 lakhs in 2004-05 and Rs 23 lakhs in 2005-06, which were far from truth.

Stating that Zaheera had never received any bribe from the Srivastava brothers as claimed in the Tehelka sting operation to turn hostile in the case, Mistry said apart from the alleged bribe amount, income of all her family members, including the compensation received by the family for the March 1, 2002 Best Bakery massacre, had been combined together to nail Zaheera.

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