Many prominent people are being probed for allegedly concealing taxable income as agricultural earnings, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday and told the Opposition not to term it as political victimisation if their names come out.
After Opposition parties Janata Dal-United (JD-U), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) raised the issue of reports of huge amount of blackmoney being masqueraded as agriculture income to avoid paying taxes, Jaitley said if someone misuses the provisions of income tax act, they are probed by the Income Tax Department.
"Many prominent people" are said to be involved and are being probed, he said, adding "Please don’t say it is political victimisation if names come out after that (probe)."
He, however, refused to share details, despite the Opposition members seeking the names of such persons.
Agricultural income is exempt from income tax.
Charging Jaitley with misleading the House, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh asked the finance minister to reveal the names and "not threaten us."
Jaitley said there was no proposal before the government to levy income tax on farm income in view of the agricultural situation in the country.
Earlier raising the issue, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav said reports suggested that Rs.2000 lakh crore of income has been concealed as agriculture earnings and sought an explanation from the government on the issue.
BSP leader Mayawati also demanded a high-level probe into generation of blackmoney in the name of agriculture and strict action be taken against guilty.
She also used the occasion to slip in a demand for Bharat Ratna for her party founder Kanshi Ram on his birth anniversary on Tuesday.
SP leader Ram Gopal Yadav saw a conspiracy of taxing agriculture income in reports that huge blackmoney was being hidden as agricultural income. He warned the government against taxing farm income.
Unsatisfied by Jaitley’s reply, members were up on their feet continuing to raise the matter.
Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien said Yadav’s notice under rule 267 seeking suspension of business to take up the issue, has not been accepted.
"An important matter was raised by Sharad Yadav. Finance Minister has given a proper reply. If you want further discussion, give notice. That notice will be considered," he said.