Press Release: 194 Politicians Fake PAN Details to Election Commission, 6 Former CMs, 8 Former Ministers and 10 Incumbent Ministers Among Them
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Press Release: 194 Politicians Fake PAN Details to Election Commission, 6 Former CMs, 8 Former Ministers and 10 Incumbent Ministers Among Them

Kuldeep Shukla |
October 5, 2018

Cobrapost unearths data showing 194 Indian law makers from across the political spectrum, including 6 former chief ministers and 10 sitting ministers, faked their PAN details while reporting their income to the Election Commission. Among these honourables are 72 from Congress and 41 BJP, while almost all parties share this honour. Experts believe it may be just another ruse to hide the exponential rise in their income between elections and to evade tax.


New Delhi (Friday, 5 October): An analysis of 2000 affidavits sworn before the Election Commission of India (ECI) by politicians across 23 states for elections between 2006 and 2016, Cobrapost has found 194 politicians faking their Permanent Account Number (PAN) details. Under Indian law, a candidate is mandated to make due disclosures of criminal cases against him, and conviction if any, and his financial status. Candidates are required to disclose their income and assets by duly quoting their PAN issued by the Income Tax Department. Concealment of the same may invite disqualification under Section 125(A)(3) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 after a candidate is elected to the legislature. Section 139A(7) of the Income Tax Act 1961, on the other hand, clearly holds that “No person who has already been allotted a permanent account number under the new series shall apply, obtain or possess another permanent account number.” Of late, there has been a growing concern over such falsification of information with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) investigating more than 100 lawmakers at the behest of the ECI. Even the Supreme Court of India has expressed concern over the use of forged PAN by millions of Indians, including law makers.   

The analysis throws up some interesting facts. For instance, the Election Commission does not verify the PAN details disclosed by candidates in their affidavits. In most cases, either of the two different PANs quoted is non-existent. It means the Income Tax Department never issued the PANs in question. In cases where the same PAN has been quoted in two election years, the said PAN was found non-existent.

Of the total 194 deviations in PAN details, there are as many as 6 former chief ministers, 10 sitting ministers, 8 former ministers and 54 sitting and 102 former members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) who have falsified their PAN details. Leaders of as many as 29 big and small political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal (United) (JD(U)), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Hindustani Awami Morcha (S), among others, are involved in this duplicity. The BJP has featured a total of 41 times on the list, while the Congress leads the pack of dubious PANs with 72 leaders providing erroneous details. With 26 cases of incorrect reporting by politicians, Uttar Pradesh leads the pack. While Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Assam have thrown up, respectively, 17, 15 and 13 cases, Uttarakhand has 14, Himachal Pradesh 12 and Rajasthan 11. Among the 41 BJP leaders to have faked PAN details, there are 13 incumbent and 14 ex-MLAs, 9 ministers, 1 Depute Speaker, 1 ex-minister, 1 ex-Chief Minister and 1 governor. The Congress has 13 MLAs, 48 ex-MLAs, 1 minister, 5 ex-ministers, 4 Chief Ministers, 1 Deputy Speaker. The SP has 1 incumbent and 11 ex-MLAs, the BSP has 1 incumbent and 7 ex-MLAs and the JD(U) has 3 MLAs, 1 ex-MLA, 1 ex-minister and 1 ex-MP in this list.     

After randomly examining the poll affidavits filed by politicians in between two election years 2006 and 2016, we verified their PAN details on the web site run by the Income Tax Department https://portal.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/e-Filing/Services/KnowYourJurisdictionLink.html. We found either of the two different PANs quoted by these politicians in their poll affidavits filed for two election years non-existent. This information can be had from another web site:  https://www1.incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/e-FilingGS/Services/KnowYourJurisdictionLink.html?lang=eng. We would like to put it on record that nowhere in this story do we claim all 194 politicians who have been found to have misrepresented their PAN details in their affidavits to the ECI have done so deliberately. Maybe out of human error there have been some erroneous entries, but it is hard to believe that all of them would have done so.

The falsification of PAN details, in most cases, has been done by changing a digit here and there, probably to look like the original one and avoid immediate detection, and perhaps to take the defence that is an intentional typo.  Experts believe that falsifying PAN details by politicians is a ruse to hide the exponential rise in their incomes, by not so legit means, and to evade tax. Another interesting fact that has emerged from this analysis is that some of the politicians involved in dodging the authorities have criminal cases pending against them.

The data collated and analyzed by Cobrapost reveals big names. These include former Assam Chief Ministers Tarun Gogoi and Bhumidhar Barman, former Chief Minister of Bihar Jitan Ram Manjhi and and former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh Virbhadra Singh. Apart from these leaders, several sitting state and central government ministers, including Rajasthan minister Bina Kak, Bihar cabinet minister Nand Kishore Yadav, Maharashtra Minister for Public Works Department Deshmukh Vijaykumar, Haryana Minister for Women and Child Development Kavita Jain and Himachal Food, Civil Supplies and Consumers Affairs Minister Kishan Kapoor, have been found to have falsified PANs in their declarations of income and assets to the ECI.

Our analysis reveals that there appears a direct correlation between the false disclosures and the growth in the income levels of many politicians, sometimes jumping manifold between two elections while their tax disclosures have become weaker, hiding more than they reveal. As controversies abound round their growing assets and wealth, experts say, they have resorted to this tactic which reflects in changes made to their PANs. Maybe some are using duplicate PANs, which is a common phenomenon, say some higher Income Tax officials, often used to evade tax, seek fresh credit and in most cases launder illicit gains into shell companies.

These revelations assume significance considering the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) is investigating 98 MLAs and 7 Lok Sabha MPs for discrepancy in their assets and declared sources of income. Last year the CBDT apprised the Supreme Court of its investigations into the assets of 42 MLAs and 9 Rajya Sabha MPs, in response to a petition filed with the Court (https://indiankanoon.org/doc/51782092/). The submission was made in response to a petition filed by an NGO Lok Prahri, which sought scrutiny of the election affidavits of 26 Lok Sabha MPs, 11 Rajya Sabha MPs and 257 MLAs on the ground that their assets had increased substantially between two polls. While the assets of 320 MPs, the petition said, who were re-elected to the Lok Sabha in 2014 had grown by 100 per cent, 6 MPs had seen their assets rise by over a whopping 1000 percent and that of 26 MPs by 500 percent. Similarly, a large number of MLAs had also reported a steep rise in their wealth. While the petition was being disposed of in the apex Court, the issue of bogus PANs became a point of hot debate with the judiciary expressing it concerns.

There are 10.52 lakh “bogus” PAN cards of individual assessees floating around which the Court said was “not a minuscule number” (https://www.deccanchronicle.com/business/economy/110617/1052-lakh-bogus-pan-cards-cannot-be-termed-miniscule-number-to-harm-economy.html). So far, 11.35 lakh duplicate or fraudulent PANs have been detected by the authorities. Taking into account what the phenomenon entails for Indian economy, the Court observed: “It could harm the economy and create adverse effect on the nation.” Former Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi submitted as much before the Court bench that duplicate PANs were used to funnel cash into shell companies.

The Court, however, did not go beyond expressing its concern. The BJP-led NDA government also just twiddled its thumb.

Cobrapost Team

For more details log on to:

cobrapost.com  


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