Election Commission calls for stern action as cash and liquor seizures increase
Concerned by increasing seizures of cash, precious metals, liquor and narcotics ahead of the year-end state elections, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has asked all state electoral offices to file reports on the follow-up action taken in such cases during past assembly polls, people aware of the development said.
The poll panel has seized Rs 135.56 crore (as on November 5) of cash and other material from the five poll-bound states. The highest collection was from Telangana, Rs 61.08 crore and the lowest from Mizoram, Rs 4.10 crore. Undisclosed cash, precious metals, narcotics and liquor are used by candidates for influencing voters, which is not permitted under the law.
The EC now wants to know the conviction rate in the cases that were following such seizures during the last round of polls in states such as Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, among others.
As per EC data, during the assembly polls in Karnataka in May, over Rs 130 crore was seized. “Karnataka was among the states with the highest cumulative seizures, but the state officials reported that cases were filed and action was taken in nearly 50% of the cases,” said one official, requesting anonymity.
“The commission wants state election officers to follow up with the courts of the district magistrates,” the official said. The increase in cumulative seizures is a trend that indicates the growing misuse of money during elections, said a second EC official.