Tax evasion: HC directs Suresh Gopi to appear before probe team

Kochi: The High Court Friday directed BJP Rajya Sabha MP and actor Suresh Gopi to appear before the police in connection with the probe into a case of alleged forging of documents to get his two luxury vehicles registered in Puducherry to evade vehicle tax in Kerala.

Considering the anticipatory bail plea filed by Gopi, Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan directed the police not to arrest him for a period of three weeks. Asking Gopi to cooperate with the investigators, the court directed him to appear before the probe team on December 21.

Gopi had filed an anticipatory bail plea on December 12 in the high court with regard to the case.

Police had registered a FIR against the actor on December 5, charging him with falsifying and fabricating documents by showing an address in the union territory and getting the vehicles registered there, causing revenue loss to the Kerala government.

The FIR is pending before the chief judicial magistrate court, Thiruvananthapuram.  In his anticipatory bail plea, Gopi said the allegations prima facie were false. He said that he had chosen to register the two vehicles at Puducherry, where he has tenanted a premise since 2009. Gopi has said he owns agricultural land around Puducherry, which was being looked after by family members, including his brothers. The actor said he has a house in Bengaluru and his brothers have residences in Coimbatore and Tuticorin, so the vehicles were frequently used to ply within these states.

Gopi has said the charges had caused great insult and annoyance to him and this would be further eroded and worsened if he was arrested. He had informed the high court that he was prepared to fully cooperate with the investigation team and at any time they wished to interrogate him. Police have said the actor-turned-politician used a fake residential address to register his luxury vehicles in Puducherry to evade the 20 per cent tax in Kerala on luxury cars costing Rs 20 lakh and above.