Amid opposition charge of the government using the tax department to harass them ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Election Commission on Tuesday called the Revenue Secretary and Chairman of Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to discuss the ongoing income tax raids.
Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey and Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) Chairman PC Mody will meet the poll body in Delhi today.
There has been a string of raids on people linked to opposition leaders like the BSP chief Mayawati, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, Andhra Pradesh CM and TDP chief Chandrababu Naidu and Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath.
The Election Commission in its letter to Revenue Secretary AB Pandey on Sunday had strongly advised that any action by its enforcement agencies during the election time should be “neutral” and “non-discriminatory” and officials of the poll panel should be kept in the loop about such actions.
In its response, the Revenue Department told the poll body that its enforcement actions are always neutral’, impartial’ and non-discriminatory’ irrespective of political affiliation and urged the poll panel to share “specific information” with the I-T department about illicit money in the electoral process.
The Revenue Department, in its letter, also urged the EC to advise its field officers to take immediate action if they come across any specific information about the use of illicit money in the electoral process.
“Since it is the responsibility of the Election Commission as also of the revenue agencies to check and eventually eliminate the use of unaccounted money in election, we would also like to urge the Election Commission to advise its field officers involved in the enforcement of the model code of conduct to take immediate enforcement action at their end under the election and other appropriate laws, if they come across any specific information about the use of illicit money in electoral processes,” Pandey wrote.
“They may also if deemed fit, pass on the information confidentially to Income Tax department for taking further necessary action,” he added.
The Income Tax Department, Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence are the executive arms of the Revenue Department dealing with financial crimes.
Since the Model Code of Conduct came into force on March 10, the I-T Department has carried out several raids on political leaders and their associates which the opposition has dubbed a misuse of central agencies during poll season.
There have been nearly 55 raids in the recent past by agencies under the Finance Ministry.
The Income Tax department has carried out raids in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday and in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the recent past.
The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from April 11 and counting will be held on May 23.
(With agency inputs)