Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal.

EC sends notice to AAP over election funding declaration

The EC notice said that AAP had 'prime facie violated lawful direction' and has asked it to send its representation within 20 days

New Delhi: The Election Comission (EC) on Tuesday served a show cause notice on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), warning of action over alleged irregularities in its election funding declaration. AAP has denied the allegations and alleged that the move was prompted by “political vendetta".

The EC notice said that AAP had “prime facie violated lawful direction" and asked it to send its representation within 20 days.

The move is significant as the poll panel has the powers to either suspend or withdraw the recognition of a political party.

AAP, which was has its origins in the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare, has used clean political funding as a crucial aspect in its political and electoral campaigns.

The grounds on which the election watchdog has sent the notice include alleged concealment of donations, entries from hawala operators and incorrect disclosures on its official website and to the EC.

The poll panel referred to a Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) order from earlier this year and said that the party has not accounted for 13.16 crore in donations and has taken “accommodation entries from hawala operators" to the tune of 2 crore.

In November last year, the income tax department in a notice had charged the party with taking “hawala entries" worth 2 crore from a Delhi-based operative and revoked the tax exemption given to it as a political party for assessment year 2015-16.

AAP said the matter has already been addressed and such notices reveal the bias of the commission.

“The Election Commission has copy-pasted and referred grossly incorrect and biased observations of the income tax department in its aforesaid notice. Even bank transfers between different state units of the Aam Aadmi Party have been treated as fresh donations. Such observations show the deep-rooted bias of statutory authority against a law abiding political party," party treasurer and Rajya Sabha member N.D. Gupta said.

“The Aam Aadmi Party has explained each and every ‘misinterpretation’ and the so-called ‘difference of 13 crore’ as alleged by CBDT in its appeal. The appeal is pending," he said.

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