The Election Commission has ordered the transfer of the entire Air Intelligence Unit staff of the Income Tax Department posted at the IGI Airport here who allowed a Trinamool Congress MP to board a private jet to poll-bound Assam carrying a "large sum of cash."
Taking "serious note" of the incident involving Trinamool Congress (TMC) Member of Parliament K D Singh who was intercepted on March 22 at IGIA with Rs 45 lakh, the EC has also sent a notice to TMC asking it to inform the Commission in three days the purpose for which the "party functionary along with others was carrying such large sum of cash to a poll bound state and also the ultimate end use that was made of such cash."
The Rajya Sabha MP was intercepted by airport security and they subsequently informed officials at the I-T Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) of IGIA to take further action. "...the Commission desires that the officers posted on Airport duty who let off such a large sum of cash to poll bound state without informing the authorities in charge of conduct of elections be transferred immediately and be warned to be careful in future," the EC order to the Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) said.
The EC also asked the CBDT that the "end use of the said cash found at IGIA with the Rajya Sabha MP be tracked immediately and a compliance report sent to the Commission..." The EC, according to sources, was also surprised that the I-T department has not informed it about the names of officers who were "responsible for the decision" to let the MP carry the cash.
According to the EC notice to the Trinamool Congress, Singh was identified as an employee of Ms Alchemist Limited before the I-T authorities at the Airport and hence was allowed by them to "pass with six other persons with the said cash for lleged purpose of purchasing land at Guwahati."
"The Commission has taken serious note of the manner in which the cash was taken by K D Singh, an MP of your party, to a poll bound state, in violation of instructions of Commission on the subject," the EC said in its two-page letter to Trinamool.
"Carrying such a large amount of cash by a party functionary when banking facilities are widely available raises genuine apprehension of its likely diversion for electoral purposes, as the election process is on. The Commission is concerned that diversion of such cash for electoral purposes shall disturb the level playing field in the present election," it said.
The EC, in its letter on March 5, had advised all political parties to instruct their office bearers, officials, agents and candidates not to carry huge amount of cash during the ongoing process of elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.