Income tax break for Congress

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'No coercive action on Rs 3,500 crore demand': Tax relief for Congress

New Delhi:

In a big relief to the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the Center today told the Supreme Court that it will not move against the opposition party to recover tax debts amounting to over Rs 3,500 crore.

The matter, the court said, will be heard on July 24.

The Congress had approached the Supreme Court after receiving notices from the Income Tax department, seeking payment of tax dues of a whopping Rs 3,567 crore. The opposition party accused the ruling BJP of “tax terrorism” and alleged that the Income Tax Department's move was an attempt to strangle it financially in the run-up to the elections. The party has said this was disturbing the level playing field at the polls and also urged the Electoral Commission to intervene.

Earlier, the tax authorities withdrew a sum of Rs 135 million from the accounts of a party for dues from previous years.

When the case came up before a bench headed by Justice BV Nagarathna today, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the central agency will not take any coercive action against the opposition party during the elections.

“They were given the option to pay 20 per cent in 2024, Rs 135 crore was recovered. The demand of Rs 1,700 crore was raised later. Therefore, the matter pertains to Rs 1,700 crore raised later. All this matter can be fixed for publication. elections. Until then we will not take any action,” he said.

When the court asked if the Center was going to stay the tax demand, Mehta replied: “No, we are just saying that we will not take any action until the elections.”

Appearing before the Congress, senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi said the Center has collected Rs 135 crore by attaching properties. “We are not a for-profit organization, just a political party.”

The Attorney General said he has a lot to say on the merits.

The court noted that the issues raised in the appeals have not yet been resolved and that the matter will be heard on the merits in the future.

For now, however, Congress has reason to feel relieved.

The Congress had earlier said that the ruling BJP was grossly violating tax laws, but the Income Tax department was not acting against it.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had warned that when the government changes, exemplary steps will be taken to ensure that no one dares to take similar steps again.

“When the government changes, action will definitely be taken against those who have stripped democracy. And such exemplary measures will be taken that no one will dare to do all this again. This is my guarantee,” he said in a post on X.

Party leader Jairam Ramesh said efforts were being made to cripple the Congress financially, “but we will not be intimidated.”

Party leader Ajay Maken said the Congress was being selectively targeted. “What we are saying is that there should be a level playing field. This action was designed to financially suffocate Congress and prevent, stop, delay and disable any election-related spending by the party on advertising, travel, salaries, agencies, etc. “It is truly appalling that the financial years assessed date back to 1993-94, when the late Sitaram Kesri was the party's treasurer,” he said.

“These orders are based on fabricated and planted diaries and so-called raids by the BJP front organization against third parties. Several of these registered third parties are enjoying suspension orders from the courts based on flawed search procedures by the I-T department” , he alleged. Maken stated, adding that the same interim measure will not be granted to Congress.

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