New Delhi: The Revenue Department on Monday told the Election Commission 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, sources said.
The Election Commission in its letter to Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan 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, sources said, Pandey wrote to the poll panel saying, “We understand the words ‘neutral', ‘impartial' and ‘non-discriminatory' mean that we must act as and when information is available against anyone, irrespective of political affiliation. This is precisely the practice that the department follows and will continue to do so”.
The Revenue Department, in its letter, also urged the Election Commission 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.
"They may also if deemed fit, pass on the information confidentially to Income Tax department for taking further necessary action,” Pandey wrote in the letter.
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 10 March, 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 poll panel's letter on Sunday came amid allegations that the government was using the agencies to target rival parties in the election season.
The Election Commission had on Sunday said that enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curbing this blatant electoral malpractice, should be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory."
“The department fully agrees with the observation that there is a need to conduct operations ruthlessly to contain this malpractice. Before such operations are undertaken, there has to be information and actionable intelligence available with Income Tax authorities so that they can act in the matter. As a rule, we always follow that practice,” the Revenue Department said.
The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from 11 April and counting will be held on 23 May.
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.
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Updated Date: Apr 09, 2019 17:23:28 IST