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Election Commission probing Rs. 50 lakh cash seizure in Maharashtra

Suspecting violation of its transparency guidelines, the Election Commission is probing an instance of cash seizure of Rs. 50 lakh in Mumbai recently from a vehicle belonging to a candidate of a major political party.

Sources said the EC has sought a detailed report into the case from Maharashtra poll authorities after a preliminary dossier sent by the Election Expenditure Observer of a constituency in Mumbai stated that surveillance teams recovered Rs. 50 lakh from a vehicle on October 9.

The report said the cash was withdrawn on the same day of the seizure from a cooperative bank branch in Mumbai with a certificate that it was to be used for “the expenses of election purpose by the (political) party.”

Sources said the EC wants to see if there was any violation of its transparency guidelines framed with regard to movement of cash funds during poll time which stipulate that any payment should not exceed the ceiling of expenditure fixed for individual contesting candidates in each state.

“The ceiling for a candidate in Maharashtra is Rs. 28 lakh while the seized cash is Rs. 50 lakh. The inquiry is to check the same,” they said.

The transparency guidelines, which became operational from October 1, state that a political party should ensure that “no payment in excess of Rs. 20,000 is made to any person or company in cash, except in a village or in town not served by a bank.

“Also, it will not apply to payments made to any employee or party functionary towards salary, pension or reimbursement of expenses or where cash payment is required under any statute.” The guidelines were framed and implemented by the EC, after consultations with political parties, in order to ensure a level playing field for all candidates in the polls and with an aim to curb instances of black money being used to lure voters.

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