Assembly polls: EC asks enforcement agencies to keep vigil
With an aim of curbing use of money power during the forthcoming assembly polls, the Election Commission has asked enforcement agencies like DRI to keep a close vigil on suspicious cash withdrawals and fake currency emanating both from inside and outside the country.
Besides writing to almost six enforcement agencies, the Commission has also written to all recognised national and state political parties advising them to "avoid transactions in cash" and ask their affiliates "not to carry huge cash" during polls.
"In order to maintain purity of elections and in particular to bring transparency in the process of elections, it is advised that political parties exercise self restraint in election expenditure of their candidates and also avoid transactions in cash.
"They (parties) should instruct their office bearers, officials, agents and candidates not to carry huge cash during the on-going process of elections in poll going states," the EC said in its two-page letter yesterday.
The EC, which had activated an Expenditure Monitoring Cell before the Assembly polls in Bihar last year, has now roped in the entire investigation machinery of the Income Tax department in the states of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry to keep a check on the spending of political parties and candidates.
The poll body has specifically asked the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to maintain "close surveillance till the completion of polls" as "it is suspected that spurious items including undisclosed cash and fake currency may be transported across the borders from foreign countries either through the international airports or through borders."
The EC had some time back asked the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) to report to if certain political parties were violating tax laws and indulging in money laundering.
The Commission, in a classified note, has also asked the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), the economic snoop wing under the Finance Ministry, to activate its scanners on all suspicious cash movements in the country and report such occurrences on a "real-time basis" to the Income Tax department.
"The Commission desires that real time information on Suspicious Transaction Reports and withdrawal of cash exceeding the specified limits from any bank accounts maintained within the poll going states/UT during the election may be reported promptly to the Directorate of Income Tax (Investigation) of the concerned states/UT, through CBDT in order to facilitate them to take action as per the law," the EC said in its letter to the FIU.