I-T tribunal rejects Congress appeal to set aside penalty on previous tax returns

I-T dept had frozen Rs 115 crore in its bank accounts earlier citing tax dues

IT tax tribunal Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge with party leaders Rahul Gandhi and K.C. Venugopal the CWC meeting, in Hyderabad | PTI

Ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha election, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal dismissed the Congress party's appeal for setting aside penalties for previous Income Tax returns.

Appearing for Congress, advocate Vivek Tankha requested the tribunal to defer the order for 10 days so that the party could approach the high court but the tribunal bench declined it.

The income tax department seized the party's four main bank accounts on an income tax demand of Rs 210 crore for 2018-2019.

Afterwards, Congress leader Ajay Maken claimed that Rs 65 crore had been withdrawn by the department from three of the party's accounts even though a petition against the claim was being heard by the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal. 

The party had approached the tribunal seeking a stay on the action of the department and said that the party won't be able to pay bills and salaries if their accounts were frozen.

Maken said that the party will move high court against the tribunal decision. "The BJP government has deliberately chosen the timing of this to coincide with national elections," Maken told PTI.

He added that the I-T tribunal freezing funds ahead of elections is "an attack on democracy". 

Congress's legal cell head Tankha said the party is disappointed with the tribunal's order. "We are disappointed with the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal order. We will be moving the High Court very soon. They have not followed their past precedents in granting relief on payment of 20 per cent penalty and that too to a national party which is now on the verge of contesting national elections, which is going to be notified soon," Tankha told PTI.

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