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.
A senior Income Tax department official, nominated by the EC for deploying these measures, said members of the public carrying any amount in cash beyond Rs 50,000 should always keep some relevant documents with them which substantiates the source and purpose of the money and they will let off post-verification if intercepted by surveillance squads.
However, in case, any small amount is suspected to be used in any poll-related inducement, it will be seized and proceedings will be initiated under law, the official said.
The EC has also asked political parties that they should conduct their transactions through authorised banking channels and even pay their candidates through the party account, thereby minimising the instances of cash being taken through road or by air.
The I-T department has, meanwhile, activated its Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) at all major airports in order to check cash movement through airports.
Past instances have indicated that businessmen, locals and other sections of travellers had to genuinely carry cash during the polls for a variety of purposes and once the cash is seized, it resulted in trouble for the individual.