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Won't have been possible had party not fought against 'tax terrorism' before courts: Cong on relief in I-T notices matter

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New Delhi, Apr 1 (PTI) After getting a reprieve from the income tax department on the tax demand notices of Rs 3,500 crore, the Congress claimed on Monday that it would not have been possible had the party not fought against "tax terrorism" before courts.

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The Income Tax department on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will not take any coercive action against the Congress in the matter in view of Lok Sabha elections after which the bench posted the Congress' plea against different tax demand notices for hearing on July 24.

Senior advocate Abhishek Singhvi, appearing for the Congress party, appreciated the gesture before the apex court, terming it "gracious".

Reacting to the development, Congress leader Vivek Tankha, who is also fighting the case for the party before the Income Tax authorities and the High Court, told PTI that the party's stand was legitimate and with the court's intervention, it can "now expect a level playing field".

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"Big relief by the Supreme Court for Congress. Now till July 24, no action will be taken against Congress on tax demand of Rs 3500 crore. After that, the court will hear these cases. If you keep fighting, disappointment or despair turns into hope; This is called the cycle of time," he said in a post on X.

The Rajya Sabha MP said that the "truth ultimately wins and we continued to fight and got relief".

"We moved the ITAT and the High Court and kept pleading that the case against us is wrong. The entire country came to know that the level-playing field is being disturbed for the Congress and a statement was given that no action will be taken till July 24 on the tax demand of Rs 3500 crore, after which the Supreme Court would decide," he said.

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"Gratitude to the Supreme Court for protecting the spirit of democracy and ensuring level playing field between political parties. Was not possible if @INCIndia had not fought #taxterrorism before our courts. Demand of 3500 crore stands deferred until July 2024, subject to final decision by SC (sic)" Tankha said in another post on X.

The Congress had received notices from the Income Tax authorities for a demand of Rs 3567 crore for discrepancies in Income tax returns for previous years and the amount includes penalties and interest.

The opposition party has accused the BJP government of resorting to "tax terrorism" by intimidating it through the freezing of its accounts and taking away its money collected through small donations, memberships and crowd-funding.

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On Monday, a bench of justices BV Nagarathna and Augustine George Masih recorded the statement of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the I-T department, that no precipitative action will be taken in the prevailing circumstances till the final adjudication of the matter.

At the outset, Mehta said, "To balance the equity. The petitioner is a political party. Based upon the 2016 judgement, which is under challenge, we have raised the demand of Rs 1700 crore. Since the election is going on, we would not like any problem to arise for any party and therefore, till the matter is heard after the election, we will not take any action for recovery of Rs 1700 crore." "At the commencement of the hearing on this application, the solicitor general appearing for the respondent department, submitted that there is no dispute that on several dates in the month of March 2024, demands have been raised as against the appellant herein totalling approximately Rs 3500 crore," the bench noted.

It further recorded, "It is further submitted (by SG Tushar Mehta) that issues which arise in these appeals are yet to be adjudicated upon but having regard to the situations now, the department does not wish to precipitate the matter as much as no coercive steps shall be taken by the respondent department with regard to the aforesaid demand of Rs 3500 crore approximately." PTI SKC RT RT

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