EC asks eco intel to crack down on black money in polls

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New Delhi, April 7: With assembly polls in five states underway, the Election Commission (EC) has asked intelligence agencies, particularly in the domain of economic snooping, to crack down on instances of use of black money.

A meeting in this regard for ensuring free and fair elections was held Tuesday where the full commission, led by Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Commissioners AK Joti and O P Rawat, met the chiefs of a number of agencies working in the financial enforcement domain.

Red-flagging a massive surge in cash circulation during the ongoing elections, RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan Tuesday said money in people’s hands has gone up by over Rs 60,000 crore which is “not normal” and needs to be looked into.

The meeting of the Multi Departmental Committee on Election Intelligence (MDCEI) was attended among others by Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Central Board of Direct Taxes Chairman Atulesh Jindal, officials from CBDT investigations unit, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Financial Intelligence Unit, Enforcement Directorate, officers from paramilitary forces SSB, BSF, CRPF and CISF, the Indian Banks’ Association, Narcotics Control Bureau

EC officials said on Wednesday that CEC Zaidi emphasised during the meeting about the need for proper coordination among all enforcement agencies to check the menace of unaccounted money in elections and also to develop intelligence and surveillance in order to achieve proper enforcement at ground level.

The agencies also shared their inputs during the meeting with some of the participating departments presenting reports in this regard.

A number of these agencies have already deployed their surveillance systems and manpower to check the flow of illegal funds and other illegal inducements during the ongoing polls.

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EC appointed teams have seized over Rs 49 crore illegal cash in the five poll-bound states till now. The first phase of polls were held on April 4 in Assam and West Bengal and more phases are to follow while elections in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry will be held on May 16.

The Commission, as part of its measures to curb black money in the polls, has deployed ‘expenditure observers’ drawn from central revenue services like the Income Tax and Customs and Excise departments.

The poll panel, in order to keep a track of huge cash spent during the polls, has also asked the Income Tax department and the FIU, both agencies under the Union Finance Ministry, to keep a strict vigil on movement of unaccounted cash.

The counting of votes will take place on May 19.

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