Nokia tax case: HC defers hearing on plea of Income Tax dept

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The Delhi High Court today deferred the hearing to January 20 on the pleas of Income Tax department seeking "directions/clarifications" on the December 12 order by which the assets of mobile phone handset maker Nokia in India were defreezed.

The bench headed by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, which on December 12 had paved the way for sale of Finnish mobile firm to Microsoft subject to certain conditions, raised certain technical and procedural infirmities in taking up the plea of I-T department.

"As the roster has changed, you (I-T department) need to get one of the applications referred to us by a judicial order of the bench which is presently dealing with tax matters," Justice Khanna said.

Now, the I-T department on Monday would move to a bench headed by Justice S Ravindra Bhat for an order to transfer the plea to the original court.

The court, on December 12, had ordered defreezing of assets of Nokia in India with certain condition including that Nokia India will deposit a minimum of Rs 2,250 crore in an escrow account while its parent company Nokia Corporation (Corp) would be liable to pay the tax dues as applicable under the Income Tax Act upto maximum of Rs 3,500 crore.

Seeking modifications in the order, the I-T department, in its fresh application had said "in the conditions imposed by the High Court ..., the situs of amount of Rs 3,500 crores and the realisation thereof is not stated/directed.

"It is requested, for the sake of clarity, to issue necessary directions for placing the aforesaid amount also in an escrow account preferably in India. The IT department also very humbly seeks directions/clarification for payment of the said amount of Rs 3,500 crore as and when the demand is raised and is due for payment."

The court had on December 12 allowed the plea of Nokia for lifting of a stay on transfer of its assets in India. The firm had said that the injunction will jeopardize the sale of its Indian arm to Microsoft under a USD 7.2 billion global deal.


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