Rahul Gandhi’s (Dated) Allegations Against PM Modi, Explained In Five PointsCongress Party vice-president Rahul Gandhi (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)/Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Speaking at a rally today (21 December), Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has in the past received crores of rupees in bribes. He also said the Income Tax (IT) department had documents in its possession pertaining to these “bribes”.

Here is what we know about these allegations of Rahul Gandhi:

First, these charges are not new. They have been discussed by the media and even the courts in the last few months. Petitioners have gone to court seeking inquiries into these charges only for the courts to dismiss them.

Second, the genesis of the charges go back to 2013-2014, when a series of IT raids took place on the offices of Birla Group and Sahara Group in the National Capital Region (NCR). During these raids, the IT department seized a large cache of documents and files. In a few files, there are jottings that can be interpreted as records of payments made to the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Bharatiya Janata Party politician Shaina N C.

One entry, for example, reads: “Gujarat CM - 25 cr (12 done - rest?).”

The seized documents and files together have ‘entries’ indicating Rs 115 crore were paid out over a 10-month period.

Third, these documents eventually found their way to the media and Delhi-based non-governmental organisations. Media reports say these files have been counter-signed by high-ranking IT officials, indicating (as part of normal procedure) that these documents have been officially confiscated by the IT department and that they are legal records.

Therefore, part of Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that the IT department is in possession of documents is true. But what about the allegations of the prime minister taking money?

Fourth, at least one NGO (Common Cause, represented by Prashant Bhushan) went to court asking for government agencies to investigate the individuals named in these records that were seized by the IT department.

Fifth, a Supreme Court bench said on 28 November 2016 that “the documents that had been adduced to its petition were not reliable” and asked Common Cause to produce "better" material. They further added:

Are you relying on Sahara’s documents? They never have genuine documents ... Anybody can make a computer entry against a chief minister or prime minister. Can we order a probe based on all that?

Referring to the alleged records of payments made to Prime Minister Modi, they said:

If we accept what you say, then somebody can tomorrow make an entry that I sent PM this much of money … see how far-reaching this could be.

Sixth, During a recent hearing, Bhushan said there was a conflict of interest in Justice J S Khehar hearing the case as he was in line to be the next Chief Justice of India. Justice Khehar then descended heavily upon Bhushan calling his remarks “very unfair, very unreasonable”. He said multiple hearings of this case had already taken place, so it was unfair to raise the objection now. As reported by the Economic Times, the files will now be placed before Chief Justice Thakur, who will place it before another bench not including Justice Khehar.

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