IT, ED raids should be non-discriminatory: EC

IT, ED raids should be non-discriminatory: EC

The Election Commission on Sunday wrote to the Revenue Secretary, Union Ministry of Finance, "strongly advising" that the raids by Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and other such agencies must be "absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory".

The commission’s advice came amid allegations by the opposition parties that the ruling BJP was misusing the agencies to harass and intimidate its political opponents.

Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy recently accused the Election Commission and the Income Tax department of harassing him and his family. He earlier led a protest by the activists of Janata Dal (Secular) and Congress, in Bengaluru against alleged misuse of enforcement agencies by the BJP against the opposition leaders.

The officials of the I-T department had carried out several raids across Karnataka in the pre-dawn hours of March 28 last. They had searched the cars of the State chief minister recently.

"The Election Commission would like to strongly advise that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb this blatant electoral malpractice (using money power to influence voters) should be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory," Vikram Batra, a director in the commission, wrote to Revenue Secretary.

The Income Tax department on Sunday conducted raids in several places linked to the associates of senior Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath in Bhopal, Indore, Delhi, Noida and Goa.

Congress leader Anand Sharma said in New Delhi that investigative agencies are being misused, and asked why there was no agency that investigated BJP on how crores of rupees were spent.

“It is understood that all enforcement agencies working under the administrative control of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance must be undertaking enforcement actions based on a variety of inputs and actionable intelligence, as per extant laws,” the EC wrote.