Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Team Anna under attack


Arvind Kejriwal

With the Income Tax Department slapping a notice on activist Arvind Kejriwal to pay dues, Team Anna on Friday alleged that the government was back to its “dirty tricks department” and that officials were being pressured by “political bosses” to act against the team members.

Challenging the government to fight them on the contents of the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill, the activists said the smear campaign was not going to take its case forward.

“This shows that the government has not learnt any lessons and is back to its dirty tricks department. If this goes on, the government’s situation is going to get worse,” lawyer Prashant Bhushan said at a press conference here.

Team Anna referred to, besides the IT notice to Kejriwal asking him to pay dues of Rs. 9.27 lakh, a Delhi Police report that a compact disc purported to contain a conversation between lawyer Shanti Bhushan and political leaders was genuine, and the privilege notices in Parliament against Kiran Bedi, another member of the team.

Kejriwal, who belongs to the Indian Revenue Service, was on study leave from 2000 to 2002 to undertake a study on “corruption in government departments.” For that period he had signed a bond that allowed payment of salary but prevented him from “resigning, retiring or quitting” his job for three years after rejoining duty.

Claiming that he had not violated bond conditions, Kejriwal said he joined work in the IT Department in November 2002 and, after staying in the job for more than three years, resigned in February 2006. In the interim period, in 2004, he sought leave without pay to work on the Right to Information Bill, which was granted “as per service rules.”

IT notice to Kejriwal a routine affair: Govt
Under attack from Team Anna and the Opposition for Income Tax office slapping a notice on activist Arvind Kejriwal to pay dues, government today said it has no intention of being “revengeful” and described the development as a “routine affair”.

“It is unfair that allegations are made against government departments about their routine duties. If there are dues, they have to be paid. It certainly does not build up a case of Government versus anybody. Why we should be oppressive and revengeful,” Law Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters at the briefing of the GoM on media.

Khurshid, who was a key negotiator from the government side first during the drafting of the Lokpal bill and then at the peak of the government-Team Anna standoff, said the government has had a good common ground with civil society members including from Anna Hazare team on Lokpal issue.

“I can say on behalf of the government that this is not the inclination of the government to get notices sent to them from whom we are expecting cooperation,” Khurshid said.

Dismissing questions on why the notice was given to Kejriwal just a few days before Hazare was to begin his protest fast on August 16, he said, “I cannot answer why it happened at a particular time.”

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