Irregularities worth crores of rupees have been found in ongoing raids on filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actor Taapsee Pannu and others, the Income Tax Department said on Thursday, countering allegations of a crackdown on some of the biggest critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration in Bollywood. According to tax officials, their searches so far have found issues with ₹ 5 crore in cash received by Ms Pannu and ₹ 300 crore income by Mr Kashyap’s former production house among other problems. Neither of them have responded to the charges yet.
Facts on IT raids at Anurag Kashyap premises
The Income Tax Department on Wednesday began searches at the homes and offices of Ms Pannu and Mr Kashyap and his partners who launched the now-defunct production house Phantom Films.
The searches, part of a tax evasion probe against Phantom Films and carried out across 28 locations in Mumbai and Pune, also covered Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhasish Sarkar and some executives of celebrity and talent management companies KWAN and Exceed.
WhatsApp chat logs, emails, documents and computer peripherals were seized from various locations. Ms Pannu, 33, and Mr Kashyap, 48, who were shooting in Pune, have been questioned by the tax officers.
The others being probled include employees of Phantom, which was dissolved in 2018, and its other promoters director-producer Vikramaditya Motwane, producer Vikas Bahl and producer-distributor Madhu Mantena.
“During the search, evidence of huge suppression of income by the leading film production house compared to the actual box office collections has been unearthed. The company officials have not been able to explain discrepancy of around ₹ 300 crore,” the Income Tax Department said in a news release.
“Evidence related to manipulation and under-valuation of share transactions of the production house amongst the film directors and shareholders, having tax implication of about ₹ 350 crore has been found and is being further investigated,” it said.
“Evidence of cash receipts by the leading actress amounting to ₹ 5 crore has been recovered. Further investigation is going on,” the department said, without naming Ms Pannu.
“Apart from this, non-genuine/bogus expenditure to related concerns by the leading producers/director having tax implication of about ₹ 20 crore has been detected. Similar findings have been made in the case of the leading actress also,” it added.
Both Anurag Kashyap and Taapsee Pannu are outspoken critics of the government and have lent their voice to various causes, including the ongoing farmer protests and last year’s protests against the controversial citizenship law that challenged PM Modi.
A string of opposition leaders have criticised the raids since 3rd March 2021. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi used 3 popular Hindi idioms on Thursday to hit out at the government and the hashtag “ModiRaidsProFarmers”.