Election Commission of India
The Election Commission on Sunday “strongly advised” the Finance Ministry that any action by its enforcement agencies during election time should be “neutral” and “non-discriminatory”.
The poll panel's advice came amid allegations that the government was using the agencies to target rival parties in the poll season.
In a letter to the Union revenue secretary, the commission said it would like to "strongly advise that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb this blatant electoral malpractice, should be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory."
The Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence are the executive arm of the Department of Revenue in dealing with financial crimes.
In case of suspected use of illicit money for electoral purposes, the chief electoral officer of the state must be kept "suitably informed" during the model code of conduct period, it said.
The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from April 11 and counting will held on May 23.
The letter also highlighted that money power with the intention of influencing voters' behaviour has over the years emerged as one of the biggest challenges for conduct of free, fair, ethical and credible elections.
Also, the advice came on a day when the Income Tax Department launched pre-dawn raids at 52 locations, including in Delhi and Madhya Pradesh, against close aides of MP Chief Minister Kamal Nath and others on charges of tax evasion and hawala transactions.
CRPF personnel deployed outside the residence of Ashwin Sharma, associate of Praveen Kakkar, who is the Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, engaged in an scuffle with MP Police officers.
CRPF personnel accompanying I-T officials clashed with the state police in scenes, which evoked memories of the face-off between Kolkata police and CBI earlier this year.