EC to launch new norms to fill poll affidavits
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Last Updated: Friday, December 17, 2010, 18:50
New Delhi: The Election Commission is planning to introduce new and stringent norms for filing affidavits of personal assets and expenditure for candidates and political parties in the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and other states next year.

The EC -- which has recently activated an election expenditure monitoring cell to curb the use of illegal money in polls with a senior Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer at the helm -- is mulling changes and new formatted affidavits after its experience in the recently concluded polls in Bihar.

The EC, according to sources, has also decided to involve the manpower and machinery of Income Tax department's investigation wing in all the upcoming polls as done during the Bihar polls after it found the maiden initiative to be very beneficial.

The EC, in consultation with the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), will introduce new and stringent measures in the new mandated "shadow expenditure registers" for candidates and political parties and new fields related to investments and others will be introduced for candidates to file details on their assets and liabilities in the affidavit, sources said.

The measures will be notified before the April-May polls of next year in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry, they said.

The proposed measures also include establishment of more Income Tax Air Intelligence Units (AIUs) at airports which do not have these units. This is essential as huge cash travels via the air route during polls, sources said.

The EC just before Bihar polls had notified that candidates will be monitored with a separate "shadow" expenditure register and will have to open an exclusive election bank account under the new guidelines to check flow of illegal money at the hustings.

The Commission has also decided to run 24x7 control rooms at its headquarters with similar ones working in each district of the state where elections will be held.

The poll panel will also field surveillance teams and flying squads in each police station area of the constituencies which will have the power to search and seize illegal and suspicious cash.

The officials, drawn from tax and revenue departments, will keep vigil over expenditures made by a candidate beginning from the filing of nomination till the declaration of the result.

The new guidelines also envisage arrangements for a 'video surveillance and viewing team' for each candidate, comprising an officer and a clerk, to watch, tabulate and prepare report of expenditure after gleaning through the video footage every day.

The video surveillance team will consist of a camera person who will record the number of vehicles, tents, furniture, dais, rostrums, barricades, posters, hoardings put up by the candidate.

In order to check illegal spending through paid news, a team headed by Deputy District Education Officer (DEO) and district Public Relations Officer (PRO) and their staff will monitor both print and electronic media and the local cable channels and will submit daily reports to the accounting team which will have officials from the Income Tax department, Central Excise and Customs and Audit and Accounts.

The Commission will also activate a call centre and complaint monitoring system at the district level where callers can register any information about illegal expenses by a candidate or a political party and all such calls will be recorded.


First Published: Friday, December 17, 2010, 18:50

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