December 18, 2016: The day Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the scrapping of Rs 500 and 1000 currency notes in order to unearth black money from the country at any cost it left a huge loophole that could make the entire exercise futile.
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• The loophole is that of exempting the deposits made by political parties from I-T scrutiny and investigation. Well, this raises the question of the very intention of the Modi government.
• When it comes to fighting black money why is there a difference in the way common man and political parties are dealt with? While common people are facing the harassment even when their money is legit, politicians are having an easy escape.
• According to the Section 13A of the Income Tax Act, 1961, “Any income of a political party which is chargeable under the head ‘Income from house property’ or ‘Income from other sources’ or ‘Capital gains’ or any income by way of voluntary contributions received by a political party from any person shall not be included in the total income of the previous year of such political party”
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• This gives the political parties the opportunity to collect the black money and not give any details about it. As according to the law, small donors, that is cash donations that come in, in less than Rs 20,000 can be anonymous.
• According to the analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch shows about 75 % of the fund’s sources of the political parties remain unknown. And, that is the real problem.
• The whole debate of transparency does not make sense when the political parties are exempted from it. It is that elephant in the room which no political leader wants to touch.
• With the demonetization move, people expected things to change but unfortunately, it didn’t. Thus, the loophole remains, all the harassment faced by the common people will bear no fruit without this change.
• Things became clear that the government doesn’t have the intention to touch that “loophole” part when Jaitley said, “Under Section 13A of IT Act 1961, political parties have to submit audited accounts, income & expenditure details, and balance sheets,”. He further added, “The legal and taxation regimes for all registered political parties remain as they were 20-25 years ago. Our government has not made any changes to these rules, nor are we planning to make any”.
• Aam Aadmi Party raised the question as to why the government is not being transparent. Arvind Kejriwal also claimed in a press conference that theirs is the only party which is transparent and have the full details of all the bills, vouchers etc. However, the donor’s list is missing from the AAP’s website for past six months. A party which claims to be so transparent and accuses the other parties of being non –transparent is itself is also escaping from same.
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That being said, the double standard remains when it comes to fighting black money. The question remains the same why is it always that the common people suffer and the rich and powerful get away?
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