The Income Tax Department has issued notice to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to explain the sources of huge cash deposit entries, running into crore of rupees, in one of its bank accounts in the past one year.
According to documents accessed by The Sunday Express, the investigation wing of the I-T Department sent a letter to the Maharashtra unit of Sharad Pawar-led NCP on April 17, seeking explanation for the source of cash deposits of over Rs 35 crore between April 2, 2013 and April 9, 2014 in account number 60003016919 at the Bank of Maharashtra.
The notice once again brings into focus the long-standing demand for transparency in funding of political parties, with parties taking advantage of lax laws to hide majority of sources of thousands of crores of rupees that they get. Under current rules, parties have to give details only of those donors who donate a sum of more than Rs 20,000.
The UPA government has been sitting on proposals by the Election Commission to amend Form 24A, used by parties for declaration of donations, so that parties have to name all donors, the amount notwithstanding.
Responding to the notice on behalf of the state unit of the party, Mumbai-based chartered accountancy firm U G Devi and Company has cited the ongoing electoral process and sought more time from the I-T Department to furnish the requisite information.
A perusal of the account statement shows that sums ranging from Rs 2,600 — the only instance of an amount less than one lakh being deposited in the account — to Rs 2.5 crore were deposited in cash at the bank branch.
There are at least 13 instances reflected in the account statement of Rs 1 crore or more being deposited in cash while instances of cash running into lakhs being deposited in the account also abound.
There are also several instances of high value cheques, many of them issued by the same account-holder, being deposited in the account.
When contacted, NCP’s Maharashtra unit treasurer Hemant Takle said he had no knowledge about any notice being received by the party.
However, in its letter, seeking more time, the party’s chartered accountants have claimed that the money, including the cash, deposited in the account represents “collections made by the party from various districts and constituencies in Maharashtra by way of coupons which are in the denomination of Rs 1,000, Rs 500 and Rs 100”.
“All collections are in small denominations i.e Rs 1000, Rs 500 and Rs 100 taken from various individuals from various districts in the state. No amount exceeding Rs 20,000 from a single individual is taken hence there are no PAN account numbers, bank details which can be furnished,” the letter says.