Income Tax sleuths will keep an eye on private functions such as 'mundan' and marriage held by persons associated with candidates in poll-bound Bihar to check if these ceremonies were being secretly financed by them to bribe voters.
The details of money spent at these functions will be then logged into the "shadow" register by expenditure monitors as the Election Commission has made mandatory for the candidates to report all expenses.
The "shadow" expenditure registers and surveillance of such functions is being done to curb the use of illegal money to bribe voters. Under EC guidelines, a candidate can spend a maximum of Rs 10 lakh for assembly polls and Rs 25 lakh for Parliamentary polls in Bihar.
The EC has also asked the Patna-based investigation wing of the I-T department to keep track of and report all such ceremonies and events that the candidates undertake anywhere in the state and in neighbouring Jharkhand.
"Such ceremonies are held to oblige, gratify and bribe voters. All such events and ceremonies will be taken as genuine expenditure by candidates who try to conceal them as extra-poll expenditure," sources said.
The candidates, in order to bribe voters, may conduct these ceremonies in the name of his or her relative or acquaintance, they said.
The EC had recently convened a meeting with top investigation officials of the Finance Ministry in Delhi and it was decided to keep a vigil on these ceremonies as earlier instances of such events being organised to illegally gratify the voters have been noticed.
The I-T sleuths have also been asked to keep a check on the distribution of cash coupons in the constituencies.
Polls to the Bihar assembly will be conducted in six phases starting October 21. A bye-election will also be held in the Banka Parliamentary seat.
The EC has recently activated a Election Expenditure Monitoring cell to curb the use of illegal money with a senior IRS officer at the helm and almost 150 I-T and Customs officials have been designated as election expenditure observers for Bihar.
Illegal gratification and bribe in terms of cash or any other medium like cash coupons are punishable under various provisions of the the IPC and the Representation of Peoples Act.
The Bihar assembly polls are the first assignment for the new cell in the EC which has recently brought out new guidelines like the creation of "shadow" expenditure register and exclusive election bank accounts by the candidates trying their luck in the electoral battle.