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Congress Accounts Frozen By Income Tax Department, IT Tribunal Gives Relief

The Congress' accounts have been frozen on account of delayed filing of IT returns of 2018-19, said Ajay Maken.

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Congress Treasurer Ajay Maken on Friday, 16 February, said that all the bank accounts of the Congress party, including that of the Youth Congress have been frozen by the Income Tax department. Maken said the action is on account of a 45-day delay in filing the IT-returns for the financial year 2018-19. Maken made this revelation at a press conference, where he also said that the IT department has imposed a penalty of Rs 210 crore on the party for the delayed filing of the 2018-19 financial year’s tax returns.

“Congress party’s accounts have been frozen. Democracy has been frozen,” he said.

Hours after the press conference, Congress leader and lawyer Vivek Tankha appeared before the Income Tax Appellate Authority (ITAT) in Delhi, where he told the authorities that "the Congress won't be able to participate in the festival of elections" without funds. "Very graciously the ITAT has said that there will only be a lien on the bank account, there is no restriction on the bank account, we can operate it." Tankha will appear in front of the ITAT again on Wednesday to argue on the merits of the case.

This comes just months before the Lok Sabha polls, expected to take place in April. The dates of the polls are supposed to be announced in another week or so.

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'Electoral Bonds Unconstitutional...But Our Account Frozen': Maken

Maken further said that the money that is being forzen is the money collected through crowd-funding or through the membership drive of the party.

“This isn’t some corporate’s money. This is the money we have collected through crowd-funding,” Maken said, adding that it was a total of Rs 25 crores, that had been collected. “The electoral bonds, which have been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court...the BJP is spending all the money they collected through electoral bonds. Meanwhile, Congress’ account has been frozen.”

There can be nothing more disastrous for the democracy of a country, Maken added. 

Hitting out at the government, Maken asked if “there will be a single party rule in the country?” 
 
"It is not only bank accounts that have been frozen, I believe democracy itself is in deep freeze," Maken further said. 
 
Maken said the party learnt about this only a day before yesterday—14 February—that the cheques being issued by the Congress aren’t working.  

'We Don't Have Money To Pay Our Bills': Maken

Maken said that the deadline for the income-tax returns for 2018-19 had been extended to 31 December, 2019. "We were late by 40-45 days. But a lot of the income tax payees often delay the submission of returns by a few days. There is a penalty. But it doesn't mean you freeze the accounts," he said.

Maken also questioned the timing of the move. "This happened back in 2018-19. And now they are doing this just 2 weeks before the announcement of the elections," he added.

The leader said that this is an unprecedented move. "Everything is impacted. We don't have money to pay our electricity bills, we don't have money to pay our salaries," he said. This could also hurt the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra being led by Rahul Gandhi.

(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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Topics:  Ajay Maken   BJP-Congress 

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