Congress gets tax tribunal relief after bank accounts 'frozen' by I-T dept claim | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Congress gets tax tribunal relief after bank accounts 'frozen' by I-T department claim

Feb 16, 2024 02:32 PM IST

Ajay Maken earlier said Income Tax authorities had frozen Congress main bank accounts, impacting all political activity.

Congress leader Vivek Tankha on Friday said that the party's bank accounts were unfrozen by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal after the party filed an appeal. The clarification came shortly after the Congress said Income Tax authorities had frozen its main bank accounts, impacting all political activity.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Rahul Gandhi during the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra'. (ANI Photo)
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge with party leader Rahul Gandhi during the 'Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra'. (ANI Photo)

Vivek Tankha, who appeared before the tribunal against the order, said the Congress 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. Vivek 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.

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Vivek Tankha's statement comes after Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said the I-T 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 were announced.

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

Ajay Maken said the party filed its Income Tax return for the concerned year a few days late and that is why this action. He added that the I-T authorities' orders freezing the accounts had come on Wednesday. Ajay Maken said four main bank accounts were frozen. News agency PTI later put the number at nine.

According to Ajay Maken, the Congress was unable to use even the funds received under its crowdfunding scheme. He 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," Ajay Maken told reporters.

Reacting to the development Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said in a post on X, "Power drunk Modi Government has frozen the accounts of the country's largest Opposition party - the Indian National Congress - just before the Lok Sabha elections."

"This is a deep assault on India's Democracy," he added.

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 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.

Rahul Gandhi also targeted the government saying that the Congress would continue to fight against the BJP-led government

"Don't be afraid Modi ji, the Congress is not the name of power of money but of power of people. We have never bowed down before dictatorship, nor will we ever bow down. Every Congress worker will fight tooth and nail to protect India's democracy" Rahul Gandhi posted on X.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor described it as “shocking & utterly shameful”.

Sachin Pilot said the freezing of Congress's bank accounts “is a clear misuse of power”.

“The Congress party has always upheld its governing principles and maintained transparency in the money raised through various channels and campaigns. Never in the history of political discourse has such a blatant act of political vendetta been unleashed on other opposition party. It is the BJP which has hoarded 90% of money raised through electoral bonds, which was declared unconstitutional by the Hon’ble Supreme Court yesterday. The timing of all these actions is questionable and the motive is clearly deliberate. The BJP has left no stone unturned to stifle opposition voices and has set a dangerous precedent for targeting opponents and undermining democratic processes,” Sachin Pilot wrote on X (formally Twitter).

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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