The Election Commission will set up surveillance teams to monitor use of black money to woo voters at the last minute during the Assembly elections due in Gujarat by December.
The ECI was alerted when Rs 94 lakh was found abandoned in an intercepted vehicle during the by-elections to Mansa Assembly constituency which the Congress wrested from the BJP, recently.
Free distribution of cash, liquor and such other goodies are known practices in the state in almost all the elections, but this time it might be different. As per the new instructions of the Election Commission of India (ECI), use of black money will be strictly monitored and if any candidate found guilty keeping or using black money will face strict police actions.
Gujarat's Chief Electoral Officer(CEO) Anita Karwal, told The Indian Express, “For the first time as per the new instructions of the ECI, there will be flying and static surveillance team which will monitor illegal cash transactions. The flying squads will have power to intercept any vehicle or raid any premises where there is suspicion of unaccounted money meant for elections are kept. The Income Tax officials will lead these teams. If the seized money found to be related to any contesting candidate police action will be initiated.”
Karwal further said, “Recently, during the by-election of Mansa Assembly constituency in Gandhinagar, total around Rs 94 lakh were seized during random checking of intercepted suspected vehicles by the flying squads. The money had been seized by the I-T officials. However, no case was registered against any contesting candidate as substantial evidence were not found of candidates links.”
As per the ECI guidelines, there will be one or more dedicated Flying Squads under each Assembly Constituency/segment for tracking illegal cash transactions or any distribution of liquor or any other items suspected of being used or bribing the voters.
The Flying Squads will consist of one senior executive magistrate as the head of the team, one senior police officer of the police station, one videographer and three to four armed police personnel. They are to be provided with a dedicated vehicle, mobile phone, a video camera and necessary panchnama documents required for seizure of cash or goods, the guideline says.
There will be one or two static surveillance teams under each police station with one magistrate and three or four police personnel in each team who will be manning the check posts.