Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday said political parties would not be granted any exemption from Income Tax scrutiny on their deposits made after demonetisation, reported PTI. He said the parties were not allowed to accept scrapped Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes as donations. Any political party doing so will be violating the law, he said.

Jaitley said that just like everyone else, political parties can also deposit their cash in scrapped notes in banks till December 30. If they fail to provide satisfactory explanation about the source of their income or any entry in their account books made before November, they are as liable to be questioned by the Income Tax authorities as is anyone else, he said. “They enjoy no immunity whatsoever...There is no question of sparing anyone, and the political class is no exception,” he added.

On Friday, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia had announced that the political parties were exempted from restrictions on depositing old currency notes in their bank accounts. This would essentially ensure that these outfits will not come under I-T scanner, provided they comply with certain rules. However, Jaitley denied these reports and called it a “media creation”. “There is no relaxation in the tax scrutiny of political parties. This is a complete media creation. We will take strong action against those parties which misuse the system,” he said.

He further urged the media to be careful about what they report. “I implore all journalist friends to be fully outraged against any step of the government, if it is not against corruption. But in equal measure, I would also implore them to do adequate research before jumping the gun,” he said.

Addendum: On Sunday, December 18, Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia claimed he had been misquoted and that there were no new exemptions for political parties with regard to old notes.