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Why ECI Asked Tax Body To Verify 'Mismatches' in Rajeev Chandrasekar's Affidavit

Chandrasekhar's affidavit declared his "total income shown in Income Tax Return" for the year 2021-22 as Rs 680.

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The Election Commission of India (ECI), on 9 April, directed the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to verify alleged discrepancies in the election affidavit filed by Rajeev Chandrasekhar – the BJP's candidate in the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala.

The ECI took cognisance of a complaint filed by the Opposition party Congress on 5 April, which alleged that the Union Minister of State filed a "false election affidavit" and that there was a mismatch in his actual and declared assets and income.

Chandrasekhar's affidavit declared his "total income shown in Income Tax Return" for the year 2021-22 as Rs 680. In 2020-21, his total taxable income was shown as Rs 17.5 lakh and in 2022-23, Rs 5.59 lakh.

The complaint, filed by Supreme Court lawyer and a member of the Congress, Avani Bansal, alleged: "While the Income Tax Returns of 2021-22 shows taxable income, it is prima facie proof of the corrupt practice by Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar, who is arguably popularly known to be the richest Member of Parliament in India."

The complaint further alleged that Chandrasekhar, "a self-declared billionaire," did not mention all of his properties in the affidavit, including his houses and luxury cars. 

The CPI(M), which is the ruling party in Kerala, also filed a complaint against Chandrasekhar for allegedly "misrepresenting" his assets.

So, what's the controversy all about? The Quint breaks down the allegations.

Why ECI Asked Tax Body To Verify 'Mismatches' in Rajeev Chandrasekar's Affidavit

  1. 1. What Does Congress' Complaint Say?

    The complaint alleged that while Chandrasekhar has declared a total immovable assets of Rs 14.4 crore, "there is no mention of either rental income, or rental payment, or ownership of his current home address" in a "posh locality" in Bengaluru.

    It claimed that this property was not declared in the current election affidavit as well as that in the 2018 Rajya Sabha elections.

    Chandrasekhar has also declared in his affidavit a '1942 Model Red Indian Scout' purchased in 1994 for Rs 10,000. The Congress' complaint alleged that the Union Minister, in various media articles, was shown to own "several high-end luxury cars."

    The complaint also termed Chandrasekhar a "repeat offender," alleging there were discrepancies in his 2018 Rajya Sabha election affidavit as well. In 2019, a PIL was moved in the Delhi High Court by Bengaluru-based Renjith Thomas, who claimed Chandrasekhar had withheld information in his Rajya Sabha poll affidavit.

    This came after the Scroll.in reported in March 2019 that Jupiter Capital, a company allegedly controlled by him, was nowhere to be found in the affidavit.

    Bansal also stated this is the second time the ECI has forwarded her complaint regarding Chandrasekhar's assets to the CBDT – the first being in 2022.

    "Question is what has the @ECISVEEP done against @Rajeev_GoI from 2022 to now? Actually from 2019, when we first brought it to their cognisance after @Rajeev_GoI's 2018 Rajya Sabha elections. Now, just sending it to CBDT again? What does it mean? Is there any concept of action in reasonable time?" Bansal posted on X.

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  2. 2. What Did Chandrasekhar Say?

    After the ECI ordered the CBDT to look into the alleged "discrepancies" on 9 April, Chandrasekhar took to X to say: "Scrutiny by ECI or CBDT is a good way to blow a hole in #CongPoliticsOfLies. As I said before when Cong tried this few years ago, my disclosures and returns are all legally vetted and absolutely accurate."

    On 4 April, after the Congress put out a video alleging discrepancies in Chandrasekhar's past election affidavits, a press release shared by the Union Minister's team called the allegations "false."

    Chandrasekhar also complained with the Chief Electoral Officer of Kerala, citing a Model Code of Conduct violation by the Congress.

    "The Congress ... making various unsubstantiated and spurious allegations with the premise that I have submitted a false affidavit before the Election Commission during the time of my Rajya Sabha election, specifically regarding my assets and wealth. It is submitted that at no point has the Election Commission or any other competent authority found my affidavit to be false even though I may have been involved in electoral politics at the very least since 2006."

    The law states that if a candidate conceals information in nomination papers or election affidavits, it is a violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The candidate could face six months in jail or a fine.

    However, the Supreme Court, while hearing a different petition about candidates not disclosing details in election affidavits, observed on 9 April:

    "It is not necessary that a candidate declare every item of movable property that he or his dependent family members owns, such as, clothing, shoes, crockery, stationery and furniture, etc, unless the same is of such value as to constitute a sizeable asset in itself or reflect upon his candidature, in terms of his lifestyle, and require to be disclosed."
    The Supreme Court, as per The Indian Express

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

What Does Congress' Complaint Say?

The complaint alleged that while Chandrasekhar has declared a total immovable assets of Rs 14.4 crore, "there is no mention of either rental income, or rental payment, or ownership of his current home address" in a "posh locality" in Bengaluru.

It claimed that this property was not declared in the current election affidavit as well as that in the 2018 Rajya Sabha elections.

Chandrasekhar has also declared in his affidavit a '1942 Model Red Indian Scout' purchased in 1994 for Rs 10,000. The Congress' complaint alleged that the Union Minister, in various media articles, was shown to own "several high-end luxury cars."

The complaint also termed Chandrasekhar a "repeat offender," alleging there were discrepancies in his 2018 Rajya Sabha election affidavit as well. In 2019, a PIL was moved in the Delhi High Court by Bengaluru-based Renjith Thomas, who claimed Chandrasekhar had withheld information in his Rajya Sabha poll affidavit.

This came after the Scroll.in reported in March 2019 that Jupiter Capital, a company allegedly controlled by him, was nowhere to be found in the affidavit.

Bansal also stated this is the second time the ECI has forwarded her complaint regarding Chandrasekhar's assets to the CBDT – the first being in 2022.

"Question is what has the @ECISVEEP done against @Rajeev_GoI from 2022 to now? Actually from 2019, when we first brought it to their cognisance after @Rajeev_GoI's 2018 Rajya Sabha elections. Now, just sending it to CBDT again? What does it mean? Is there any concept of action in reasonable time?" Bansal posted on X.

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What Did Chandrasekhar Say?

After the ECI ordered the CBDT to look into the alleged "discrepancies" on 9 April, Chandrasekhar took to X to say: "Scrutiny by ECI or CBDT is a good way to blow a hole in #CongPoliticsOfLies. As I said before when Cong tried this few years ago, my disclosures and returns are all legally vetted and absolutely accurate."

On 4 April, after the Congress put out a video alleging discrepancies in Chandrasekhar's past election affidavits, a press release shared by the Union Minister's team called the allegations "false."

Chandrasekhar also complained with the Chief Electoral Officer of Kerala, citing a Model Code of Conduct violation by the Congress.

"The Congress ... making various unsubstantiated and spurious allegations with the premise that I have submitted a false affidavit before the Election Commission during the time of my Rajya Sabha election, specifically regarding my assets and wealth. It is submitted that at no point has the Election Commission or any other competent authority found my affidavit to be false even though I may have been involved in electoral politics at the very least since 2006."

The law states that if a candidate conceals information in nomination papers or election affidavits, it is a violation of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The candidate could face six months in jail or a fine.

However, the Supreme Court, while hearing a different petition about candidates not disclosing details in election affidavits, observed on 9 April:

"It is not necessary that a candidate declare every item of movable property that he or his dependent family members owns, such as, clothing, shoes, crockery, stationery and furniture, etc, unless the same is of such value as to constitute a sizeable asset in itself or reflect upon his candidature, in terms of his lifestyle, and require to be disclosed."
The Supreme Court, as per The Indian Express

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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