The Congress alleged on Wednesday that the Income Tax Department ordered Rs 65 crore to be withdrawn from its bank accounts “undemocratically” even though proceedings are underway before an appellate authority, PTI reported.

The tax department ordered banks to transfer Rs 60.25 crore from the Congress’ bank accounts and Rs 5 crore from the accounts of the Indian Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India to the government, the Congress said. The National Students’ Union of India is the Congress’ student wing.

On February 16, the Congress announced that its bank accounts had been frozen on “flimsy grounds” and that the action had hampered all the party’s political activities. Later in the day, the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal allowed the Congress to operate its bank accounts but ordered it to maintain Rs 115 crore as lien, effectively freezing these funds.

A lien is a legal claim against the assets of an individual or business accused of having failed to meet tax liabilities.

On Wednesday, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken said: “The Income Tax department had written to various banks to withdraw a sum of Rs 65 crore from different bank accounts of the Congress and Indian Youth Congress in view of the demand raised by the Income Tax authorities earlier, despite the appellate authorities hearing the case.”

Maken remarked that "democracy will be over if the action of probe agencies goes unchecked", but said that his party has full faith in the judiciary, according to PTI.

The case pertains to an Income Tax demand of Rs 210 crore for the financial year 2018-’19. The Congress alleged that the tax department’s action weeks before the Lok Sabha election were an instance of “vendetta politics” and amounted to an assault on democracy.

Maken said that the party does not have money even for regular expenses such as paying salaries and electricity bills.

Party MP Vivek Tankha, who appeared before the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal on February 16, said he told the tribunal that the Congress would not be able to take part in the "festival of elections" if its accounts remain frozen.