IT dept freezes Cong's accounts, appellate tribunal de-freezes later

Income Tax authorities froze bank accounts of Congress party, it was later de-frozen

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  16 Feb 2024 9:10 AM GMT
IT dept freezes Congs accounts, appellate tribunal de-freezes later

New Delhi: The Congress on Friday said Income Tax authorities had frozen its main bank accounts, impacting all political activity. However, the accounts were later de-frozen by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal pending a further hearing next week.

Party leader Vivek Tankha, who appeared before the tribunal against the order, said the party was now allowed to operate its bank accounts. The tribunal will hear the matter next Wednesday before a final decision is taken on the matter.

Tankha said he told the tribunal that the Congress would not be able to participate in the "festival of elections" in case its accounts remain frozen.

Earlier in the day, treasurer Ajay Maken said the Income Tax department had frozen the Congress' main bank accounts on "flimsy grounds" and this affected all political activity of the party barely two weeks before general elections are announced.

The accounts, including that of the Indian Youth Congress, were frozen on an Income Tax demand of Rs 210 crore for 2018-19, an election year, Maken said at a press conference.

In a shocking development, the IT department has imposed a penalty of Rs 210 crores on the Congress party for the cash deposit of Rs 14.40 lakhs.

According to him, the party filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a few days late and that is why this action. He said the IT authorities' orders freezing the accounts had come on Wednesday.

Maken said four main bank accounts were frozen. Sources later put the number at nine.

Income tax must freeze BJP accounts

The party leaders said, while it should be the BJP’s accounts that should be frozen after the Supreme Court struck down the Electoral Bonds unconstitutional, over 95 percent of which have been pocketed by the BJP, the IT department has frozen the accounts of the principal opposition party in the country which generated funds from crowdfunding.

Dont be scared says Rahul Gandhi

Terming it unconstitutional and a deep assault on India’s democracy, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “power drunk Modi Govt has frozen the accounts of the country’s largest Opposition party-the Indian National Congress-just before the Lok Sabha elections”.

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi directly targeted Prime Minister Modi telling him, “don’t be scared, Congress is not the party whose strength is money power, its strength is people’s power”.

Asserting that the Congress will not succumb to the dictatorial intimidation, he said, each and every Congress worker will fight to defend and protect the country's democracy at all costs.

Ajay Maken says a penalty of Rs 210 crores imposed

Maken said the issue related to 2018-19 for which the IT department has demanded recovery of Rs 210 crores from the Congress party. He said the first reason was that the filing of the IT returns were delayed by 40-45 days.

He said, since 2019 was an Election Year, Congress party submitted the receipts of Rs 199 crores which were spent on the elections. He said, of this amount Rs 14.40 lakhs had been deposited in cash by some Congress MPs and MLAs from their salaries. He said it was shocking that the IT department had imposed a penalty of Rs 210 crores on the cash deposit of Rs 14.40 lakhs.

The party was unable to use even the funds received under its crowdfunding scheme, Maken said at the press conference and alleged that democracy was in danger in the country.

"For the first time in the country's history, accounts of the principal opposition party have been frozen by the tax authorities on flimsy grounds, barely two weeks before the announcement of general elections," Maken told reporters.

Congress money is from crowd funding, Kharge

The unconstitutional money collected by the BJP would be utilised by them for elections, but the money collected by the Congress through crowdfunding shall be sealed, the party president Kharge said. "That is why, I have said that there won't be any elections in the future. We appeal to the Judiciary to save the multi-party system in this country and protect India's Democracy," the Congress president said.

Echoing the party chief, Maken appealed to the judiciary to save democracy as it was in danger and said the country is headed towards "one-party democracy". He said the party has already appealed to the Income Tax appellate authority and hoped for justice. The party will otherwise make an appeal before the judiciary, Maken said.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court scrapped the Centre's electoral bonds scheme of anonymous political funding, calling it "unconstitutional" and ordering disclosure of the bond's donors, amount and recipients by March 13.

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