A day after the Election Commission asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to probe allegations of ‘fake poll affidavits’ against NCP leader Supriya Sule, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aaditya Thackeray, the parties have now responded to the development.
Shiv Sena and NCP responds to the CBDT investigation
Shiv Sena Minister Anil Parab stated, “It is a routine process to cross-check the information given in an affidavit with the income tax authority. Election Commission and Income Tax Department normally share the information, so there is nothing new in the issue.” He had prepared the election affidavits of both Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik too was not surprised with the development. Hailing it as a ‘routine exercise’, he stated that it was common for the central agency to verify information filed in the affidavit to the income tax returns of a candidate. Malik emphasised, “If there is a specific query, we will reply to it.”
Change in policies of the Election Commission
In 2013, the Election Commission informed that assets and liabilities of candidates would be verified by CBDT. As a part of his administrative powers, the Election Commission had stated on June 16 that it would take cognisance of complaints against candidates for irregularities, misinformation, and omissions in election affidavits pertaining to educational qualifications, assets, criminal history, and liabilities. It marked a start change in the stance of the election body in dealing with such complaints.
Earlier, it would urge complainants to approach the Courts under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The said law penalises elected representatives with a fine or 6 months imprisonment or both if found guilty of filing false information in poll affidavits. However, it cannot lead to disqualification of the candidate as the jail term is shorter than 2 years, which is mandated by Section 8A of the election law.
Election Commission takes cognisance
Times Now had earlier reported that that the relevant complaints, filed by an RTI activist, cite material in support of the claim about the details furnished by the Thackerays and Supriya Sule in their affidavit not being true: a possible reason why the poll panel found it appropriate to refer them to the CBDT.
One such major discrepancy which has come to the forth is the missing bank account detail in Aaditya’s election affidavit, that was mentioned in Uddhav’s affidavit. Uddhav’s affidavit shows wife Rashmi and son Aaditya as having a joint account in Bank of Maharashtra having Rs 9,52,568 lakh deposits. However, Aaditya’s affidavit submitted during Assembly elections did not mention the account. The activist also alleged that both the Thackerays had different dates for holding shares under the HUF (Hindu Undivided Family) category.