The Income Tax (I-T) Department has summoned veteran Congress leader and party treasurer, Ahmed Patel, in connection with “undeclared” fund collections and election expenses to the tune of ₹550 crores of the Congress Party.
The summon has been issued under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act for violations of Section 13A that deals with exemptions for political parties with conditions. Previously, the Department had sent the summons to the Indian National Congress party over the issue.
Last year, the IT department had conducted searches in 52 places including Hyderabad, Vijaywada and several locations in Madhya Pradesh. On February 6, 2020, a total of 40 locations were searched linked to an infrastructure company, Megha Engineering Infrastructure Limited.
Justifying the move, the Ministry of Finance said that the Congress party had sent only “junior officials” in response to its earlier summon. Keeping in mind the magnitude of the alleged misappropriation of funds, the Ministry has summoned Ahmed Patel.
Speaking to The Indian Express, the Congress Treasurer said, “Such contributions are received by every political party and I will respond to the summons soon, probably after the upcoming Parliament session.”
As per reports, the summons was issued on the 11th of February and Ahmed Patel was due to appear before the investigative agency on the 14th of February. However, the senior Congress leader did not appear for questioning claiming that he was unwell and admitted to the Metro Hospital in Faridabad, Haryana. He has reportedly told the IT Department that he is suffering from breathing problems. After this, a fresh summon was issued.
Ahmed Patel is mired in controversies and is being investigated in connection with other irregularities as well. In April 2019, after raids at the locations of the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister’s OSD, it was reported that Rs. 20 crore had been transferred to the head office of a major political party located at Tughlaq Road in Delhi, which was moved through a senior party functionary.
Although the department didn’t name the political party and the functionary, it was reported that the residence of SM Moin in Delhi, who is a senior functionary of Congress, was raided by the Income Tax department. Ahmed Patel had rushed to the residence of Moin in Delhi when I-T officers were conducting search operations there.