EC for stern ac­tion as cash and liquor seizures in­crease

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Nation - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com n

Con­cerned by in­creas­ing seizures of cash, pre­cious met­als, liquor and nar­cotics ahead of the year-end state elec­tions, the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion of In­dia (ECI) has asked all state elec­toral of­fices to file re­ports on the fol­low-up ac­tion taken in such cases dur­ing past assem­bly polls, peo­ple aware of the de­vel­op­ment said.

The poll panel has seized Rs 135.56 crore (as on November 5) of cash and other ma­te­rial from the five poll-bound states. The high­est col­lec­tion was from Te­len­gana, ₹61.08 crore and the low­est from Mi­zo­ram, ₹ 4.10 crore. Undis­closed cash, pre­cious met­als, nar­cotics and liquor are used by can­di­dates for in­flu­enc­ing vot­ers, which is not per­mit­ted un­der the law.

The EC now wants to know the con­vic­tion rate in the cases that were fol­low­ing such seizures dur­ing the last round of polls in states such as Gu­jarat, Ut­tark­hand, Pun­jab and Ut­tar Pradesh, among oth­ers.

As per EC data, dur­ing the assem­bly polls in Kar­nataka in May, over Rs 130 crore was seized. “Kar­nataka was among the states with the high­est cu­mu­la­tive seizures, but the state of­fi­cials re­ported that cases were filed and ac­tion was taken in nearly 50% of the cases,” said one official, re­quest­ing anonymity.

“The com­mis­sion wants state elec­tion of­fi­cers to fol­low up with the courts of the district mag­is­trates,” the official said.

The in­crease in cu­mu­la­tive seizures is a trend that in­di­cates the grow­ing mis­use of money dur­ing elec­tions, said a sec­ond EC official.

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