Apex court declines to act against political parties on tax payment (Lead)

November 14th, 2008 - 10:25 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) Terming the plea “politically inspired”, the Supreme Court Friday declined to issue directions to the government and the Central Board of Direct Taxes to proceed against political parties that have not submitted before the Election Commission all contributions they have received in excess of Rs.20,000 and availed income tax relief on them. The court also declined the plea to the court to direct the poll panel to furnish a list of all political parties registered with it that had not filed their contribution report (above Rs.20,000) as required under the Representation of the People Act, after it became obligatory since 2003.

The petitioner, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), said the political parties were mandated under the Representation of the People Act to submit a list to the poll panel of all the contribution they have received above Rs.20,000 and availed tax relief on them.

The bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice P. Sathasivam said that if political parties were not complying with the tax laws then they would have to bear its consequences.

The court said that the PIL was “politically inspired” and had been filed close to the elections. However, the counsel for the petitioner said that the PIL was filed way back in March and could not be viewed in the backdrop of the coming elections.

The court said there were innumerable people not complying with the tax laws and the court could not issue directions in respect of all of them. Appearing for the petitioner ADR, counsel Kamini Jaiswal said the political parties could not be equated with individual tax defaulters as these parties were ruling the country and the states.

The court said there were more than 900 political parties registered with the Election Commission and only few had their MPs in parliament. Counsel Jaiswal referred to the displeasure expressed by the apex court in the past over the failure of the government in enforcing provisions of the income tax relating to the filing of the ITRs.

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