BHOPAL: Nine months after the Vidhan Sabha elections in Madhya Pradesh, the Income Tax Department has issued summons to 15 present and former legislators over mismatch in information given in their poll affidavits and their income tax returns of last five years.
Those summoned by the IT department under Section 131 of the Income Tax Act, include seven ruling Congress MLAs, among them a present cabinet minister and a former cabinet minister and six opposition BJP MLAs, two of whom are former ministers and powerful leaders.
A BSP MLA from the Gwalior-Chambal region and a former SP MLA who lost the 2018 polls too have been summoned over the mismatch in information pertaining to income/assets declared in the poll affidavits and information filed in their income tax returns over last five years.
Though the summoned present and former MLAs have been granted exemption from personally being present to respond to queries of the tax department sleuths, their representatives need to comply with the summons in 7-10 days from receiving the summons.
Two of the MLAs summoned by the IT department (both hailing from Bundelkhand region) are nephew and brother of a national BJP and national Congress leader respectively.
Importantly, in pursuance with past Supreme Court verdict and Election Commission of India (ECI) guidelines, the IT department in MP is verifying the 2018 assembly poll affidavits of all 230 winner candidates as well as some loser candidates by matching the information pertaining to assets/liabilities declared in their affidavits and the information pertaining to same heads in the income tax returns (ITRs) filed by the MLAs over last five years.
In some cases, the 2018 poll affidavit is being compared with the 2013 poll affidavit also.
Sources privy to these developments told The New Indian Express, that the ongoing verification of the 2018 poll affidavits and ITRs of last five years regarding income/assets revealed major mismatch running into several crores of rupees in case of around 50 present and a few ex-MLAs, belonging to all major parties.
The around 50 MLAs and ex-legislators were subsequently asked to submit written clarifications about the mismatch. However, not considering the replies satisfactory, the IT department issued summons to 15 legislators, including an ex-MLA, to send their representative to explain/clarify in detail about major differences in assets declaration made in poll affidavits and information about accretion of income/assets filed by the same MLAs in ITRs of last five years.
Based on the detailed explanation presented by the MLAs or their representatives in compliance with the summons, the IT department will prepare detailed report of each MLA and send it to the ECI. If tax evasion comes to the fore in ongoing investigations after compliance of summons, the IT department will act as per the IT Act against the concerned MLAs.
Also, if it was proved that the MLAs have deliberately made false declaration in their poll affidavits, the ECI will act against them sternly and may even disqualify them.