New Delhi: Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa’s son Abir has quit his post as director in an organic food company in light of a FEMA investigation against him and the firm, ThePrint has learnt.
Abir is said to have resigned on 3 December, months after the Enforcement Directorate (ED) launched an investigation against him and Nourish Organic Food Pvt Ltd. However, his resignation is yet to be accepted.
Lavasa’s mother Novel, sources said, has also decided to quit the board of at least two companies she serves on as director because of a tax evasion probe against her.
Abir and Novel both took the decision in the larger interest of the firms they serve, the sources added, apparently after receiving several hints that they ought to quit.
Lavasa and his family have courted headlines often since the Lok Sabha polls, when the election commissioner emerged as the lone dissenter in the Election Commission’s decision to give clean chits to PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for alleged poll code violations.
An IAS officer of the 1980 batch, Lavasa serves in the poll panel alongside fellow Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra and Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora.
He is in line to become the chief election commissioner when Arora retires in 2021.
‘Necessary for the survival of the company’
Abir and Nourish Organic Food Pvt Ltd are facing an ED investigation over an amount of Rs 7.25 crore raised in March 2019 from Saama Capital, a Mauritius-based early-stage investor that has also invested in Paytm, Snapdeal and ChaiPoint.
The sum was allegedly raised in violation of the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA). Abir’s decision, sources said, followed repeated ED “summons, nudges and signals” to the company and its investors that they should urge him to step down.
“He felt that it was necessary for the survival of the company, which is why he decided to move on,” a source close to Abir added.
Abir served a two-year stint as director in Nourish Organic Food Pvt Ltd, having joined 14 November 2017, and reportedly holds 10,000 shares in the company.
“The investors are a very-well respected fund, all the paperwork is clean, but they were evidently unhappy (with the government pressure),” the source quoted above said. “They were sympathetic and even though they didn’t communicate anything, obviously they do not want unnecessary trouble.”
Novel Lavasa to step down too
Beginning August this year, Novel was sent notices by the Income Tax Department for alleged tax evasion.
Sources said Novel’s decision to resign from two boards she’s on is driven by similar reasons as her son.
“They have got clear indications to remove her, and she thinks that if the company is going to be harmed by her presence, then she’d rather leave,” a source said.
“They have been urging her to step down as well… So she also feels that if this would be in the interest of the companies, she’d rather step down,” the source added.
In September this year, when reports of the I-T notices against Novel first emerged, she refuted the evasion charge. “It is stated that I have paid all taxes due towards me and disclosed all income earned by me from pension, and all other sources as per Income Tax law.”
Months after the notice was first sent, sources said, Novel had received “a good taxpayer certificate” from the I-T Department.
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