New Delhi/Patna: Income Tax sleuths, keeping
a tab on expenditure by candidates in poll-bound Bihar, will
now snoop on private functions such as `mudan` (head
tonsuring) and marriage to check if they were being secretly
financed by contestants to bribe voters.
The Election Commission has asked the Patna based
investigation wing of the I-T department to report all such
ceremonies that the candidates undertake anywhere in the state
and in neighbouring Jharkhand.
"Such ceremonies are held to oblige and gratify voters.
These are innovative ways to bribe and lure the voter. All
such events and ceremonies will be taken as genuine
expenditure by candidates who try to conceal them as
extra-poll expenditure," sources said.
The candidates, in order to bribe voters, may conduct
these ceremonies in the name of his relatives or
acquaintances, they said.
The EC had recently convened a meeting with top
investigation officials of the Finance Ministry in Delhi and
it was decided to keep a vigil on these ceremonies as earlier
instances of such events being organised to illegally gratify
the voters have been noticed.
The expenditure of all such ceremonies will have to be
recorded into the "shadow" register of the candidate, they
The I-T sleuths have also been asked to keep a check
on the distribution of cash coupons in the constituencies.
Polls to the Bihar Assembly, including a by-poll in
the Banka Parliamentary seat, will be conducted in six
phases starting October 21.
The EC has recently activated a Election Expenditure
Monitoring (EEM) cell to curb the use of illegal money with a
senior IRS officer at the helm and almost 150 I-T and Customs
officials have been designated as election expenditure
observers for Bihar.
According to EC guidelines, a candidate can spend a
maximum of Rs 10 lakh for Assembly polls and Rs 25 lakh for
Parliamentary polls in Bihar.
Illegal gratification and bribe in terms of cash or
any other medium like cash coupons are punishable under
various provisions of the the IPC and the Representation of
The Bihar Assembly polls are the first assignment for
the new cell in the EC which has recently brought out new
guidelines like the creation of "shadow" expenditure register
and exclusive election bank accounts by the candidates trying
their luck in the electoral battle.