Beloved Prime Minister Narendra Modi, keep in abeyance IT Act Section 13 A from 9th November 2016 midnight to 31st March 2017 midnight

Coordinated trickery and lies by Arun Jaitly and Hansmukh Adhia over exemption to political donations under IT Act Section 13 A is betrayal of people’s trust in your nationalist government

This writer was damn upset when you announced demonetization of Rs. 500 and Rs.1000 currency. The fear that this may lead to the departure of a nationalist government from power was the reason for my first panic reaction. I have held a belief that if you take any drastic action that inconveniences masses and disrupts their lives, it will prove to be politically suicidal. I have seen how anti-encroachment and anti-copying drives have led to fall of governments.

 

Even in 1977, Indira Gandhi was not thrown out of power over the issue of saving democracy or corruption. The real causes of her defeat in the northern and central Indian states were a united opposition, disaffection among Muslims over forced sterilization campaign and incidents like Turkman Gate, and brewing discontent in local bureaucracy that was kept on a tight leash during the emergency. None will know it better than me as I campaigned door-to-door 24/7 for Janata Party. I also know how the percentage of voting went up and en mass bogus voting took place as the mood in the northern belt was such that Congress booth workers and election officials also wanted Indira Gandhi to lose. 

 

As I did some hobnobbing with people on streets and those travelling by public transport this 9th November onwards, I realized that the demonetization move has been taken in the right spirit by aam adami. This was quite heartening and I felt much relieved by 13/11, a Sunday, when I saw happy street vendors and an atmosphere of co-operation and helpfulness all over. Later, I would come across some distressing news about long queues for cash etc. and out of my sense of empathy would tweet emphatically about it.

 

When I saw the first critical tweet a few days ago about political donations and Section 13 A exemption under the IT Act, I naturally and instantly defended it and responded to the tweets by some prominent twitterati with whatever logic I could muster. That’s what independent nationalist social media (SM) warriors always do as they are the first responders to negative news about your government and you in MSM and SM. I tweeted that under the IT law, a scrutiny can always take place and thus we must not presume that a political party can launder black money and old notes without coming under the IT scanner.

 

I could have held on to such innocent belief if I had not come across the tweets of the Revenue Secretary Dr. Hansmukh Adhia and the media quotes of the Minister of Finance Shri Arun Jaitly. I don’t trust Arun jaitly. I have had some first hand experience of how he protects and promotes the corrupt.  Though I applaud his able defense of your government occasionally, I know he is not to be trusted as you can never trust a slithery snake.

 

This is what Jaitly said about 13 A exemption according to a TIMES NOW tweet that quoted him, ‘Political parties cannot accept donations in old Rs.500/Rs.1,000 post demonetization.’

 

 

This was an idiotic statement coming from an ace Supreme Court Senior Counsel and the Minister of Finance, Government of India. He was certainly out of his mind to have made such a statement that brazenly presumed that old currency can be tagged as the one that existed pre or post midnight of 9/11. How will the genius determine which part of the old currency, which actually can be deposited in banks until 31st March 2017, was received pre or post 9/11? Old currency is old currency. He probably presumes that political parties are so honest and upright that they prepare their books of account on hourly basis and must have recorded the retail donations (below Rs.20,000) received at 11.55AM on 8/11 diligently in the donation receipt book and closed the day’s account.

 

This was obviously a stupid lie. The litany of lies did not stop there. Dr. Adhia soon got into a coordinated attempt through a series of tweets to douse the sparks of discontent brewing in social media. The paid SM warriors of the BJP cyber cell and sundry senior and junior ministers began parroting and RTing the phony arguments of Jaitly and Adhia without even giving a thought to their obvious idiocy.

 

 

Adhia’s tweets and arguments are bizarre and stupid for the knowledgeable and beguiling for the layperson. He posted 6 tweets in quick succession.

 

Tweet No. 1 declares, ‘All reports about the alleged privilege to Political parties are false and misleading.’

 

Tweet No.2 clarified, ‘Political parties were not granted any exemption or privilege post-demonetization & introduction of Taxation Amendment Act 2016.’

 

Tweet No.3 asserted the fact, ‘ Income & donation of political parties fall in the purview of Sec.13 A of the Income Tax Act 1961 and there is no change in this position.’

 

Now here is  Section 13 A for your ready perusal:

 

13A. Special provision relating to incomes of political parties.- Any income of a political party which is chargeable under the head “Income from house property” or “Income from other sources” or “Capital gains” or any income by way of voluntary contributions received by a political party from any person shall not be included in the total income of the previous year of such political party :

 

Provided that—

 

(a) such political party keeps and maintains such books of account and other documents as would enable the Assessing Officer to properly deduce its income therefrom;

 

(b) in respect of each such voluntary contribution in excess of twenty thousand rupees, such political party keeps and maintains a record of such contribution and the name and address of the person who has made such contribution; and

 

(c) the accounts of such political party are audited by an accountant as defined in the Explanation below sub-section (2) of section 288 :

 

Provided further that if the treasurer of such political party or any other person authorised by that political party in this behalf fails to submit a report under sub-section (3) of section 29C of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951) for a financial year, no exemption under this section shall be available for that political party for such financial year.

 

Explanation.—For the purposes of this section, “political party” means a political party registered under section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951).

 

Tweet No. 4 further elaborates, ‘ This is a provision of law 35 years old and no change is made in that now.’

He uses these four tweets to state the obvious, tries to set the record straight that the law, Section13A, already existed and the present government was not responsible for its creation.

Tweet No. 5 delivers a ‘subterfuge’ in bureaucratic gobbledygook, the trick that was also used by Arun Jaitly, a trick as stupid as it can get. ‘Post demonetization no political party can accept donations in 500 rupee and 1000 rupee notes since they were rendered illegal tender.’  

 

This balderdash comes from the Revenue Secretary, a bureaucrat of great experience, holding one of the key positions in GOI hierarchy. He either presumed that people of India were stupid or he himself is a worthless chump to have tweeted like this.

If this was not enough this devious bureaucrat compounds the problem with his 6th and final tweet, a white lie, for which he can be easily prosecuted for perjury.

Tweet No. 6 lies brazenly, ‘If there is any discrepancy, political parties are liable to be QUESTIONED by IT authorities as anyone else. They enjoy no immunity.’ 

What a lie! What a brazen lie! Political parties are not ANYONE ELSE by virtue of Section 13 A, which gives them IMMUNITY from being questioned about the sources of donations, obviously cash, below Rs.20, 000.

Do you remember why Kejariwal’s AAP received donations of Rs.19,999/- in most of the cases? The ex-IRS officer was protecting himself under the IT ACT Section 13 A, which gave him immunity from disclosing the source of his funds. As characterized by Adhia, ANYONE ELSE, who could be a professional or petty trader, can be questioned about the source of his/her income for as minuscule a sum as Rs.100 but not a Section 13 A protected and immunized political party.

So, if Section 13 A remains operative, this is what is going to happen. The political outfits run by a family or an individual can deposit any sum of old cash, even hundreds and thousands of crores, aggregated as retail donations (below 20,000), in any bank until 31st December 2016 and until 31st March 2017 in the RBI and coolly claim it was collected from faceless aam janata. They cannot be questioned about the sources of these deposits thanks to Section 13A.

 

It entails that Sonia, Pawar, Mamata, Mulayam, Mayavati, Karunanidhi, Kejariwal, Uddhav Thakeray, and a whole host of politicians can very easily turn their black money into white by depositing it in the party’s bank account as retail donations from unknown sources. And interestingly, it’s the supreme leader or his/her minions who write cheques to withdraw money or make payments from those accounts. It’s also the supreme leader who dictates his/her party’s constitution under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 (43 of 1951).

 

So, it was panic reaction of Mayavati to have returned the suitcases of cash to the aspirants of her party’s ticket in the UP Assembly Elections. She should have happily deposited it in the nearest branch of her bank. It’s also stupid of Income Tax officials raiding politicians like Jagan Reddy and seizing his cash. He can easily claim that the cash belonged to his party and while he was in the process of getting it deposited, overenthusiastic IT officials seized it.

 

This is what Section 13 A means Narendra Modi Ji. You can ask Dr. Adhia if he can really explain this in any other way even if he seems to have done his doctorate in subterfuge and bureaucratic gobbledygook. 

 

So, here is the stark reality beloved Prime Minister. Your demonetization campaign may catch a few small fries but if it fails to nab the big sharks, it will be considered a failure. And the big sharks in the ocean of corruption are politicians, bureaucrats, and crony capitalists. Section 13 A provides a convenient escape route to them.

Demonetization is an extra-ordinary step and you will need to take some more initiatives to make the exercise fruitful. You have been doing it all through this process until now, changing rules, guidelines, etc. on day-to-day basis to catch crooks and help the honest. You must do it in this case as well.

Suspend and keep in abeyance Section 13 A from 9th November 2016 to 31st March 2017 to make sure the big sharks don’t get away with laundering their dirty money through this route. They can even launder the money of their businessmen cronies and stooges in bureaucracy using this exemption. Every single Rs.500 & Rs.1000 currency deposited in multiple accounts of political parties must be confiscated.

 

If you fail to do so, and allow people like Dr. Adhia and Arun Jaitly to whitewash the issue with their subterfuge and lies, people will begin to lose faith in your integrity and uprightness, the one key asset worth billions you have built in your political career. They can clearly see that the system treats lay citizenry with harshness and gives kid glove treatment to the sharks of corruption for whatsoever reasons. Such double standards will also damage your credibility as a leader who cares for the nation and its people.

Rajesh Kumar Singh

@khulkebolo @neelnabh

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