Congress gets major tax reprieve; Kejriwal 4th prominent AAP leader in Tihar | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Congress gets major tax reprieve; Kejriwal 4th prominent AAP leader in Tihar

Apr 02, 2024 09:31 AM IST

The Congress last week hit out at what it described as tax terrorism and alleged its ability to fight the national polls was being deliberately crippled

The Congress has faced financial woes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. The Income Tax (IT) department last month recovered 134 crore from the party before raising a demand of another 1,700 crore. On Monday, the party got a major reprieve when the department assured the Supreme Court that it will not enforce for now the collection of a 3,500 crore tax demand, including about 1,700 crore in notices issued last week.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal being brought to Tihar Jail. (HT PHOTO)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal being brought to Tihar Jail. (HT PHOTO)

The department cited the April-June general elections and told the court that it would not resort to any coercive measures to retrieve the money until the matter is heard after the polls.

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What did the department tell the Supreme Court?

Solicitor-general Tushar Mehta, who represented the department, told the Supreme Court that since elections are on, they do not want any problem to be caused to any party. The court, which recorded the statement, was hearing Congress’s challenge to a 2016 Delhi high court decision, which formed the basis for the department’s tax demands.

Mehta told a bench of justices BV Nagarathna and AG Masih that the petitioner is a political party. “This impugned judgment is from 2016 and based on these parameters, a demand was raised in 2021. In March 2024, we recovered 134 crore and now we have raised a demand of 1,700 crore based on the same parameters. Since elections are going on, until the matter is heard after elections, we will not take any action for recovery of this amount.”

One of the notices to the Congress pertained to the assessment year 1994-95 when the late Sitaram Kesari was the party’s treasurer. Last week, the party got a fresh notice taking the total tax dues to 3,500 crore. The Congress called the notices tax terrorism and alleged that they were deliberately sent to cripple its ability to fight the polls.

Congress treasurer Ajay Maken claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also committed significant tax violations. He said using the same yardsticks, the BJP was liable to pay 4,600 crore in taxes. “We have analysed all violations of the BJP using the same parameters they used to analyse our violations. BJP should have a penalty of 4,600 crore. The income tax department should raise demand from the BJP for the payment of this amount,” Maken said. He alleged the BJP was targeting only the Opposition parties.

Kejriwal sent to Tihar jail

Special judge Kaveri Baweja, meanwhile, on Monday remanded Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal in judicial custody until April 15 in the now-scrapped 2021-22 excise policy case. He is the fourth prominent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader to be lodged in Tihar Jail weeks before the general elections.

The arguments before Baweja shed light on the Enforcement Directorate’s (ED) questioning and the role of Vijay Nair, a key figure in the case, and whether he reported to Delhi ministers Atishi and Saurabh Bharadwaj. Nair is alleged to have allegedly played a significant role in facilitating allegedly illicit activities and connections within the liquor industry.

The judge noted ED’s contention that Kejriwal’s release could hamper the investigation. ED moved an application to place Kejriwal under 15 days of judicial custody but added that it may seek additional custodial interrogation later.

Vijayan hits out at Congress over Kejriwal’s arrest

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan hit out at his arch-rival Congress on Monday over Kejriwal’s arrest. He said it has a lesson for the Congress. Blaming the Congress for Kejriwal’s arrest, Vijayan said: “It was the Congress which filed a police complaint in the case. It paved the way for the entry of ED. ED went on to arrest Manish Sisodia, a minister of the Delhi government, in the case. Congress complained about why Kejriwal was not arrested. It publicly asked why the Delhi chief minister was not being investigated in the case.”

Congress to release manifesto on April 5

Congress general secretary KC Venugopal on Monday said the party will release its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls on April 5 at the party headquarters. “Subsequently, we will hold two Mega Rallies on 6th April - in Jaipur and Hyderabad!” Venugopal wrote on X.

The party has declared a substantial part of the manifesto to woo youth, women, workers, farmers, and caste groups. The Congress has announced 25 guarantees including filling up of three million lakh public sector jobs, 1 lakh to every poor household, right to apprenticeship, and a caste census followed by lifting the cap on reservation.

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