The Income Tax department has seized over Rs 95 lakh cash during its ongoing drive to curb the use of black money in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat, officials said on Wednesday.
Talking to reporters, Gujarat Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) S Murali Krishna said, the I-T department seized Rs 1.40 crore from various parts of the state in the past one week.
"While Rs 44.61 lakh were returned to the owners upon the production of valid proof, Rs 95.43 lakh unaccounted cash was seized by the department," he said.
Joint Director, Investigation, of Income Tax Pankaj Shrivastav, who is the nodal officer for elections, revealed that a total of eight complaints were received. In these, three were investigated - two in Surat and one in Ahmedabad. In these three cases, a total of Rs 95.43 lakh cash has been seized. Another two lockers has been taken over by the I-T department which will be operated after Holi.
From the Ahmedabad case recorded Tuesday night there was a cash seizure of Rs 60.40 lakh. "On the lead from our sister department, Sales Tax, cash records of one Kinjal Jawahar Shah were searched amounting to a total of Rs 60.40 lakh. From which Rs 50.73 lakh has been seized as roughly Rs 10 lakh was reflected in the books. The two cases from Surat-Rs 21.90 lakh and Rs 22.80 lakh - were reported from angadiya operators. There is no political connections in any of these cases, said Pankaj Shrivastav.
In addition to this, there was a case of detainment of foreign currency from the Surat airport late Tuesday night, the details of which will be shared Thursday.
For the elections, 36 teams are in place, one each at 33 districts and three or Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. While seven air intelligence units are in place all across Gujarat the department is also co-ordinating with the railway authorities where the railway police has been asked to monitor the cash transfers by railways.
Shrivastav added that in addition to the toll free number, 18002337444, for any complaints, the Income Tax department has activated a whatsapp number, 7016245836, Wednesday.
As per the guidelines issued by the Election Commission, poll candidates or party leaders cannot carry cash above Rs 50,000, Krishna said.
"Any amount more than Rs 50,000 will be seized by the authorities. Further, a vehicle found carrying gifts worth over Rs 10,000 can also be seized if the authorities suspect that they are meant to lure voters. Star campaigners can keep Rs 1 lakh in cash for their personal use," he added.
To avoid the seizure of cash, party leaders or workers can keep a certificate issued by their party treasurer, which carries all the details about how the cash will be spent, Krishna said.
The model code of conduct came into force when the poll schedule was announced on March 10.
-with PTI inputs