SC dismisses plea seeking to lift '100 p.c. tax exemption' granted to political parties

Petition asks court to decide on why ordinary persons are taxed while political parties enjoy exemption from tax.

Updated - January 11, 2017 06:36 pm IST

Published - January 11, 2017 02:34 pm IST - New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said recognised political parties need money to propagate their respective “political regime”, and dismissed a petition seeking to lift “100 per cent tax exemption” granted to them.

A Bench led by Chief Justice of India J.S. Khehar did not find any merit with the petition filed by advocate M.L. Sharma challenging certain provisions in the Income Tax Act and the Representation of the People Act.

Mr. Sharma had challenged the constitutionality of Section 13A of the Income Tax Act of 1961 and Section 29 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. The petition asked the court to decide on why ordinary persons are taxed, while political parties enjoy exemption from tax.

“Political parties registered with the Election Commission of India are 100 per cent exempted from paying Income Tax under Section 13A of Income Tax Act, 1961 as long as the political parties file their Income Tax Returns every assessment year along with their audited accounts, income/ expenditure details and balance sheet,” the petition said.

Mr. Sharma said the cause of action for his petition arose when the Finance Secretary, on December 16, declared that no investigation would be done against political party accounts and funding upon deposit of demonetised notes owing to the 100 per cent income tax exemption under Section 13A of the 1961 Act.

“This is a serious financial and life injury to the citizen of India. If it is not stopped and quashed it will be serious endanger to the whole society, livelihood and life of the citizen of India,” the petition said.

The petition also sought the apex court's intervention to respond to several questions of law like if the Constitution recognises the need to have a political party membership for becoming an MP, MLA and MLC.

“In the present scenario, political parties work for themselves to grab maximum seats in the House for their nominated person via hook and crook. They serve no social and moral service to the citizen of India as well as to the country. On the other hand, they have been at the root of corruption,” the petition alleged.

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