The Bombay High Court on Tuesday allowed Chinese firm ByteDance to operate its Indian bank accounts, frozen by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) authorities over alleged tax evasion, after depositing a sum of Rs 78.91 crore in a state-run bank.
The four blocked bank accounts of the TikTok parent, however, held insufficient funds to pay the amount, according to its court filing.
A Bench of Justices SP Deshmukh and Abhay Ahuja said ByteDance said the company could operate its other Indian bank accounts and utilise the remaining funds, after depositing Rs 78.91 crore in any nationalised bank.
The tax intelligence agency in mid-March ordered HSBC and Citibank in Mumbai to freeze accounts of ByteDance India as it investigated some of the firm’s financial dealings.
ByteDance approached the HC last month denying all tax evasion allegations and seeking various reliefs, including challenging the provisional attachment order for freezing of its bank accounts in India.
Senior advocates Rafiq Dada and Vikram Nankani, who appeared for ByteDance, argued that since all the money in its bank accounts had been frozen, the company had been unable to pay its Indian staff salaries.
The counsel said tax evasion proceedings against ByteDance had been going on for two years. They said the company had provided the Indian authorities everything, including audited accounts, and yet, suddenly its accounts had been frozen.