The Election Commission (EC) has reached out to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to strengthen its case against two Congress candidates who allegedly misrepresented their expenses during the Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections last year.
The Commission has asked CBDT to “authenticate” the cash receipts recovered during the income tax raids that took place mainly on the premises of relatives and aides of Chief Minister Kamal Nath in April after Congress candidates Kalpana Verma and Shivjeet Singh “Bhaiya Raja” denied receiving Rs 10 lakh each for poll-related expenses.
As first reported by The Indian Express on May 17, Verma and Raja, who contested from Raigon and Panna seats, respectively, were issued showcause notices by the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer on May 14. The action was based on the report submitted by Income Tax officials on the raids that had triggered a war of words between the BJP and the Congress, and forced the EC to advise the Revenue Secretary and CBDT to maintain “neutrality”.
According to the report submitted by the I-T department, their team discovered receipts for money paid to Bhaiya Raja and Verma. Both are alleged to have received Rs 10 lakh each. The money, EC said in its showcause notice, was not reflected in the final accounts submitted by them to the Commission, which is in contravention of norms under Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act.
However, in their reply to EC’s showcause notice, both Verma and Raja denied the allegations. The Commission now plans to confront them with evidence, but before that, it needs CBDT to authenticate the cash receipts recovered during the raids.
Section 10A of the Representation of the People Act deals with failure to lodge one’s account of election expenses. If candidates, elected or otherwise, do not file their account of expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by EC then they, on being proved guilty, can be disqualified for a period of three years from the date of the order.
Candidates have to file their statements of election expenses within 30 days from the date of election to the District Election Officer (DEO). Once submitted, the statements are verified by the DEO and state CEO and forwarded to the EC. In the case of the Madhya Pradesh Assembly polls, the statements of election expenses were forwarded to the EC by the second week of January.
Verma lost the seat to BJP’s Jugal Kishore Bagri by 17,421 votes, and Raja to BJP’s Brijendra Pratap Singh by 20,708 votes. The Madhya Pradesh polls saw a close fight between the BJP (109) and the Congress (114).