Congress funds freeze: Are the charges misplaced?

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) The Congress party, in a press conference with a rare appearance of Sonia Gandhi on Thursday, accused the Modi government of crippling the Opposition by throttling its finances, and claimed that the Income Tax (I-T) Department is targeting their bank accounts at the behest of the Centre.

Amid the series of accusations by Congress, it has emerged that party’s own failure to meet tax compliances and protracted approach in dealing with I-T cases led to the freezing of party’s accounts.

Congress claimed that cases from the past, when Sitaram Kesari was party President, were reopened to stymie the party’s electoral campaign by blocking its funds, but the “disclosures” from I-T Department present a different picture altogether. Also, the High Court upholding the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) order and its harsh remarks against the party’s bungled handling of the tax cases leave little to defend itself.

According to details from I-T Department, Congress was asked to pay Rs 105 crore outstanding tax for Assessment Year 2018-19, and the same was upheld by ITAT too. But, Congress moved High Court and got no relief, rather it received flak for sleeping over the case.

Moreover, the party, rather than getting its facts right and pursuing the matter legally, turned it into a political issue and alleged vendetta by the Centre, accusing it of silencing the Opposition.

Reports suggest that the party has not come clean on the alleged blockage of over Rs 200 crore in its bank accounts. The party has claimed that its bank accounts have been frozen, making it difficult for the party to meet its expenses; but the I-T Department recently told the tax tribunal that it created only a lien in party’s accounts to settle the outstanding tax.

The I-T Department told ITAT on February 16, that it has not issued an order to banks to freeze the transactions in Congress’ bank accounts, the order of the tribunal read.

The ITAT order further stated that the Department has only created a lien on the amount in the accounts to settle the pending tax demand.

A lien refers to a claim or a legal right against an asset, which is usually used as collateral until the claim is paid.


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