I-T sleuths step up vigil to spot violators of model code of conduct

Take your pick: Masks of prominent political leaders on sale for ₹10 apiece at a shop in the city on Tuesday. Shops selling poll campaign material are in for good business this year.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Income Tax (I-T) Department has deployed several quick response teams across the city to monitor violations of the model code of conduct, which came into effect with the announcement of the dates of the Lok Sabha polls on Sunday.

According to I-T officials, a central command centre has been set up in the tax offices in the Air India building in Nariman Point to monitor the teams. So far, five teams have been positioned: four to patrol the northern suburbs, and one to monitor south Mumbai.

All hands on deck

Officials said that the command centre will be operational between March 10 and April 29, the duration for which the model code of conduct will be in effect. A senior official said, “We will review the situation halfway through the period the model code of conduct will be in effect and increase the number of teams if needed. Meanwhile, all hands have been brought on board and asked to report to the investigation and intelligence wings of the department during the election period.”

Lok Sabha polls will be held in the State in four phases: April 11, 18, 23, and 29. Seventeen seats from north Maharashtra, Konkan and Mumbai will go to the polls in the last phase. The quick response teams have been assigned specific tasks, including monitoring key entry and exit points into the city. A senior official said, “Patrolling will be conducted in shifts and the teams will be tracking intelligence on vehicles carrying cash and liquor for distribution to voters by candidates.”

The I-T department has already held two round of meetings with the Maharashtra Police and senior officials of the State government to coordinate arrangements for the polls. The State Election Commission (SEC) has urged the I-T department to monitor airports and railway stations as they are potential transit points for illegal money transfers. Officials said that the SEC conveyed to the department that special teams must be deployed at the State’s borders and maintain close watch on the movement of vehicles.

Action plan submitted

Earlier this month, the department submitted an action plan to Maharashtra Chief Secretary D.K. Jain to aid the State’s preparations to conduct the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections over the next few months.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 3:24:43 PM |

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