Are ATM vans ferrying black money for polls?
An intelligence input on ferrying black money in cash vans was shared during a recent meeting between the officials of Finance Ministry and Election Commission to decide on measures to check illegal money circulation, official sources said.
These vans, carrying cash, are run by private security agencies and engaged by various banks. These vehicles enjoy general immunity from security agencies as they are employed by banks after necessary due diligence, they said. It has been decided to ask Indian Banks’ Association (IBA) to take necessary measures and it may issue directions in this regard, sources privy to the meeting said.
The Finance Ministry is also in the know and may take necessary steps in view of the latest input, he said. There has been a recent instance where illegal cash was found in a van carrying money for ATMs, the sources said without giving further detail of the incident. Revenue intelligence agencies including Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) and Enforcement Directorate (ED) among others are keeping a strict vigil on movement of illegal money during the ongoing elections.
Over Rs 195 crore in cash has been seized across the country so far by Election Commission appointed teams. A total of Rs 118 crore cash has been seized in Andhra Pradesh, Rs 18.31 crore in Tamil Nadu, Rs 14.40 in Maharashtra, Rs 10.46 crore in Uttar Pradesh and over Rs 4 crore in Punjab apart from numerous other small seizures in rest of the states, according to a latest EC data.
Also, the total liquor seized stands at 26.56 lakh litres, heroin 70 kgs while 11,469 FIRs have been registered against distribution of cash and illegal inducements in various states. A vehicle carrying Rs 3.99 crore was on Monday seized by Election Commission appointed surveillance teams in Moradnagar area of Uttar Pradesh.
The Finance Ministry has deployed about 650 Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officers across the country to keep a tab on expenses by candidates. The Election Commission has this time raised the cap on spending by each candidate during Lok Sabha polls in bigger states to Rs 70 lakh from Rs 40 lakh. For smaller states, the cap will be Rs 54 lakh. The country will spend over Rs 5,000 crore on the Lok Sabha polls, according to the EC.