New Delhi: Flagging discrepancies in its electoral funding statement, the Election Commission on Tuesday warned the AAP of action for “prima facie failing” to follow its transparency guidelines. In its showcause notice, the EC claimed that transactions through hawala operators were “wrongly disclosed as voluntary donations”.
However, the AAP dubbed the EC notice as a “poor interpretation” of basic accounting practices and alleged “bias” of Central agencies against it. The party also expressed fear of possible “harassment” by agencies over the issue.
The EC has asked the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to respond to the notice “within 20 days”, failing which it will decide on the cases on merit based on the information available with it and the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
Rule 16 A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order allows the EC to either suspend or withdraw recognition of a recognised political party. The AAP is a recognised state party in Delhi.
The notice said the AAP had submitted the original contribution report for Financial Year 2014-15, which was received by it on September 30, 2015. The party later submitted a revised report on March 20, 2017.
“The original report contains a list of 2,696 donors with the total donations amounting to `37,45,44,618 and the revised contribution report shows the total amount as `37,60,62,631 received from 8,264 donors,” it said.
The poll panel said that a report was received from the office of the CBDT chairman in 2018 regarding “concealment of donations received by the AAP” during Financial Year 2014-15.
Referring to concealment of donations, the EC notice said the bank account of the AAP recorded total credits of Rs 67.67 crore, including Rs 64.44 crore from donations in excess of Rs 20,001.
“However, the party has disclosed total income of Rs 54.15 crore from donations in its audited accounts for the year. Therefore, it has been held by the assessing officer that Rs 13.16 crore have not been accounted for by the party and these donations have been held to be from unknown sources,” the notice read.
The notice also mentions transactions with hawala dealers, claiming that the party has taken “accommodation entries from hawala operators to the tune of Rs 2 crore. These have also been wrongly disclosed as voluntary donations.”
Referring to the CBDT report, the EC said the AAP made “wrong disclosures” on its official website and also furnished incorrect information to the poll panel under Section 29C of the Representation of the People Act.
“It (CBDT letter to EC) details how the party has changed/revised its contribution report once the correctness of the same was questioned. In conclusion, it is stated that its disclosures to the Election Commission in the form of the contribution report are incorrect,” the EC notice said.