To strengthen the Expenditure Monitoring Mechanism, the Election Commission has taken new initiatives including modification of the Standard Operating Procedure for seizure and release of cash.
The high-stakes assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 11 and March 8, while Punjab and Goa will go to polls together on February 4; Uttarakhand on February 15 and Manipur in two phases on March 4 and 8. The counting will be held on March 11.
Announcing the poll schedule for five states, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi said the seven-phased UP Assembly polls for 403 constituencies will be held on February 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, March 4 and 8.
Here are the initiatives taken by the commission
1) To avoid inconvenience to common people with genuine need for carrying cash, the Standard Operating Procedure for seizure of cash and release has been modified.
2) An appellate body will be in place in every district to attend to petitions from the public. The Committee will suo moto examine each case of seizure by the Police or Flying Squad or Static teams, and in suitable cases immediate steps will be taken to release the same.
3) The political parties will be required to file a part expenditure statement in respect of the lump sum payments made to the candidate, within 30 days after declaration of results.
4) In order to reduce litigations relating to expenditure accounts, a reconciliation meeting will be held before the final submission of the accounts, on the 26th day after the declaration of the results.
5) All expenditure incurred by the candidates, their party agents or party leaders for travel, boarding, lodging etc, or those who travel overseas for canvassing to seek votes of electors residing there, would be deemed as an expenditure incurred or authorised by the candidates in connection with their election and will have to be included in their account of election expenses.
6) Any inducement to overseas electors by way of air tickets or any other documents to inducements to them in cash or kind to come to India for the purpose of voting at the election would amount to electoral offence of ‘bribery’ within the meaning of section 171B of the IPC as also the corrupt practice of ‘Bribery’ within the meaning of section 123(1) of the R.P. Act, 1951.
7) As per the revised ceilings, the maximum limit of election expenses for the Assembly Constituencies is Rs 28 lakh per candidate for the states of Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, and Rs 20 lakh per candidate in Manipur and Goa.
8) All Political Parties sponsoring candidates for the Legislative Assembly elections are required to maintain day-to-day accounts of all election campaign expenses and submit the accounts to the Commission within 75 days of the completion of such elections. Such accounts will be uploaded on the website of the Commission for public viewing.