The officers of the Election Commission’s election expenditure monitoring cell, who have been deployed to curb money power in the Assembly poll bound States, have seized as much as Rs. 42 crore in unaccounted cash in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab and Manipur till Wednesday. In Goa, where the election process is yet to pick up steam, no major seizure was reported.
Sources here said in U.P. alone nearly Rs. 29.48 crore cash had been seized and that Rs.11.31 crore was recovered in Punjab, Rs. 48 lakh in Uttarakhand and Rs. 36 lakh in Manipur. Besides, there were other seizures like unaccounted gold, diamonds, liquor (in Punjab) and other valuables by the flying squads, surveillance teams and static teams consisting of income-tax, revenue and police personnel.
In Punjab, a further Rs. 2 lakh in fake currencies were seized and sources said it was suspected that the notes could have originated from Pakistan. Besides, the team could also intercept and seize 6 kg of heroin and 1.5 kg of smack.
A senior official remarked that the seizure of Rs. 42 crore cash from the four poll bound States is much less than the Rs.73 crore currency/gold seized during April-May, 2011, when Assembly elections were held in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu had topped the list then with the seizure accounting to nearly Rs.60 crore. In Kerala around Rs.1.14 crore was seized and it in West Bengal, Rs. 8.53 crore.
Officials said the seized cash had been deposited in the State treasury or handed over to the Income-tax Department for taking necessary action under the Income-tax Law. Wherever unclaimed money was linked with poll offences, cases have been registered. The EC had recently increased the maximum amount of cash to be carried by an individual/or others in the election bound States to Rs. 2.5 lakh from the earlier Rs. one lakh. Even in this case the cash carried for genuine/bonafide purpose would be released only after obtaining an undertaking in this regard and those carrying cash in excess of Rs.2.5 lakh for “genuine” purpose would be released after referring the matter to the Income-Tax department.