The Election Commission made seizures worth Rs 1000 crores for the first time in any Assembly polls during the March-April Assembly elections in four states and a union territory. It seized cash amounting to Rs 344.85 crores, liquor worth Rs 85.01 crores, drugs worth Rs 161.60 crores and freebies valued at Rs 139.18 crores, and precious metals valued at Rs 270.80 crores.
As per EC, the highest amount in cash was seized in Tamil Nadu (Rs 236.69 crore), followed by West Bengal (Rs 50.71 crore), Assam (Rs 27.09 crore ), Kerala (Rs 22.88 crore)and Puducherry (Rs 5.52 crore). Meanwhile, most liquor was seized in Assam, drugs and freebies in West Bengal and precious metals in Tamil Nadu.
"The Commission conducted exhaustive reviews at various levels, which included review meetings with Enforcement agencies of the States and Union Territory (UT), meetings with Revenue Secretary, Chairman, CBDT, Chairman, CBIC and Director FIU-Ind for inter-agency co-operation and real-time sharing of intelligence," said the EC. The poll body had appointed five Special Expenditure Observers with formidable domain expertise and an impeccable track record for the monitoring.
"As per law, distributing cash and gifts during the electoral process with the intent to influence voters is not permitted, and such expenditure comes under the definition of 'bribery' which is an offence both under Section 171B of the IPC and under the RP Act, 1951. The expenditure on such items is illegal," it said. EC added that the drive against the menace of money power will continue in the remaining phases of elections and hence, the figures are expected to rise further.