CHENNAI: In what appears to be a contradiction to the very term ‘Model Code of Conduct’, a whopping Rs 3.40 crore of unaccounted cash has been seized by the ECI - in only five days.
Chief Electoral Officer Satyabrata Sahoo on Thursday said Rs 3.40 crore of unaccounted money has been seized by various squads of the Election Commission across Tamil Nadu during the past five days since the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for the Lok Sabha elections came into force. He added that over 1,400 squads have been formed to monitor its implementation.
In all, 64,385 defacements in public properties have been removed so far and 12 cases have also been registered. Similarly, 24,082 defacements have been removed from private properties and 875 cases have been registered in this regard.
The CEO said the Income Tax department had been requested to maintain strict surveillance in airports, railway stations, hotels, farm houses, hawala agents, financial brokers, cash couriers, pawn brokers and suspicious agencies, which are likely to be used for movement of undisclosed cash.
“Any suspicious transaction above `10 lakh should be brought under surveillance. We are implementing the same on regular coordination. Anyone who wishes to pass on information about movement of unaccounted cash, etc., can do so by calling toll free number 1800 425 6669 or send a message through fax no 044-28262357 and through email ID - email@example.com. Besides, the public can send complaints through the WhatsApp No. 9445467707,” he said.
The CEO said so far, 702 Flying Squads and an equal number of Static Surveillance Squads have been formed. Apart from these, 234 Video Surveillance Teams (one per Assembly constituency) and an equal number of Video Viewing Teams have been posted.
Sahoo said he had forwarded the report sent by the Madurai Collector on the requests from all parties demanding for a change of polling day in the district, as it falls on Chithirai festival, to the Election Commission. The EC would take the final decision.
Guidelines for seizure
During the check, if any cash exceeding Rs 50,000 is found in the vehicle of a candidate, or his agent or party worker is carrying posters or election materials, or any drugs or liquor, arms or gift items which are valued at more than Rs 10,000, the same shall be subject to seizure.”
If any star campaigner is carrying cash up to Rs 1 lakh exclusively for his personal use or any party functionary is carrying cash with certificate from the treasurer of the party mentioning its end use, then authorities of the SST shall retain a copy of the certificate and will not seize the cash.
If more than Rs 10 lakh is found in a vehicle and if there is no suspicion of commission of any crime, then SST shall not seize cash but pass on the information to IT authority.
To avoid inconvenience to general public and genuine persons, a committee will be formed comprising of three officers of the district, namely PD-DRDA, Nodal Officer of Expenditure Monitoring and District Treasury Officer. This committee will look into all cases as per the standard operating procedures and will take immediate steps to order release of such cash after passing a speaking order to that effect.