The Income Tax Appellate Tribunal on Friday dismissed the Congress’ plea to stay the Income Tax Department’s proceedings of freezing the party’s bank accounts in connection with a dispute pertaining to a tax demand, ANI reported.

Senior advocate Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Congress, requested the tribunal to keep its order in abeyance for 10 days so that the party can approach the High Court.

However, the tribunal rejected the request saying it does not have such a provision, according to ANI.

On February 16, the Congress announced that its bank accounts had been frozen on “flimsy grounds” in connection with a tax demand dispute. The accounts were frozen on an Income Tax demand of Rs 210 crore for the financial year 2018-’19, Congress treasurer Ajay Maken had said.

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.

Maken had said that freezing accounts of the Opposition party just before the Lok Sabha elections and hampering its political activities is “equivalent to freezing the democracy”.

On February 21, the Congress alleged that the Income Tax Department had ordered Rs 65 crore to be withdrawn from the accounts “undemocratically” even though proceedings are underway before an appellate authority.