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Huge push by ECI to curb menace of money power during upcoming Assembly elections

Seizures already surpass the total seizures made in Assembly Elections to these States/UTs in 2016 and a significant point is that record seizures have been made even though polling is yet to start.

SNS | New Delhi |

Record seizures worth Rs 331 crores have been made in the Expenditure Monitoring Process in the ongoing Assembly Elections 2021 in the states of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry.

Seizures already surpass the total seizures made in Assembly Elections to these States/UTs in 2016 and a significant point is that record seizures have been made even though polling is yet to start.

Total seizures in the above poll-bound States/UTs in Assembly Elections 2016: Rs 225.77 crores

For effective monitoring to curb black money in General Election to Legislative Assemblies of Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Union Territory of Puducherry, Election Commission of India has deployed 295 Expenditure Observers.

Commission has also appointed five Special Expenditure Observers; Madhu Mahajan, ex-IRS (IT):1982 and BR Balakrishnan, ex-IRS (IT):1983 (both for Tamil Nadu and UT of Puducherry), B Murali Kumar, ex-IRS, 1983 batch (for West Bengal), Neena Nigam, ex-IRS, 1983 batch (for Assam) and Pushpinder Singh Puniha, ex-IRS, 1985 batch (for Kerala).

These officers having formidable domain expertise and impeccable track record are deputed for more effective election expenditure monitoring.  After the due assessment, 259 Assembly Constituencies have been marked as Expenditure Sensitive Constituencies for a more focussed vigil.

On expenditure monitoring, Commission has convened various meetings with senior officials of Enforcement Agencies of poll-bound States and UT. Seeking the importance of central enforcement agencies in the election expenditure monitoring process, Commission also convened a meeting of Revenue Secretary, Chairman CBDT, Chairman CBIC and Director FIU-Ind on 02.03.2021.

Distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process is not permitted under the law, e.g., distribution of money, liquor, or any other item disbursed and given to the electors with the intent to influence them.

This expenditure comes under the definition of “bribery” which is an offence both under 171B of IPC and under RP Act, 1951. The expenditure on such items is illegal. With the drive for curbing inducements that vitiate the electoral process intensifying, the seizure figures are expected to rise further.