Blackmoney menace: No ceiling on carrying legitimate cash by public, says EC

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Mar 10 2014, 01:34am hrs
BlackmoneyThere will be no ceiling on carrying legitimate cash by the public in view of the security. Reuters
There will be no ceiling on carrying legitimate cash by the public in view of the security and anti-blackmoney measures initiated by the EC for Lok Sabha polls, but surveillance squads will have the power to intercept any suspicious transportation of cash.

The EC, which has deployed a team of flying squads and expenditure observers immediately after the poll schedule was announced on March 5, has set no ceiling of cash that can be carried by the public but with a condition that surveillance squads will have the power to intercept and check any suspicious transportation of cash.

The Commission which has issued a slew of measures for the Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) of all states and Union Territories with regard to curbing blackmoney and illegal money power during polls has not stipulated any ceiling for carrying or transporting cash this time to minimise genuine public grievances.

The EC, which has activated an exclusive Election Expenditure Monitoring (EEM) cell within its establishment few years ago with the sole purpose of combating blackmoney instances in the electoral process, has brought on board the investigations arm of the Income Tax department and other revenue intelligence agencies to provide it with vital inputs to check the menace.

"There is no limit on carrying cash during the polls period this time. However, any cash beyond Rs 50,000 could be subjected to scrutiny by EC nominated flying squads and the individual or entity carrying the amount should furnish documents in this regard.

"Also, any cash beyond Rs 10 lakh will be reported to the I-T department by these squads for action at their end," a senior official involved in combat blackmoney measures of the EC told PTI.

The EC decided to ease its norms and directives on cash transportation as it received a number of representations from public groups and trader bodies over the alleged harassment while they were carrying big cash sums for the conduct of business deals or social functions like wedding among others.

"The group shall not directly take any action against any malpractise and it should only inform the district complaint monitoring centre which has been opened for the purpose," the EC said charting out the standard operating procedures for these groups.

The EC has asked the CEOs to direct the Returning officers in the expenditure sensitive constituencies to "hand over" all advertisement material prepared on ethical voting to the VAG and WAG members.

The central poll panel has also asked the CEOs to ensure that the identity of these members are kept a secret, keeping in mind their security, when they register a compliant against any electoral malpractise with regard to blackmoney instances.

The CEOs have also been asked to share contact numbers and details of these members to all sort of observers that are deployed in the area for monitoring of poll process.

The EC, keeping in mind the security and safety of these members, has asked the CEOs that their details should also be made available to sector magistrates and senior police officers of the area.

The members of this group, the EC said, should have no political affiliation and will be those who have no blood or family relation with a candidate trying his luck at the hustings.

The VAG and WAG groups will at least have one or two women members.