SEC sets up panel to check daily campaign expenditures

In a first, the State Election Commission, has set up a committee of 15 income tax officials whose task will be to verify accounts of campaign expenditures on a daily basis. The panel has been formed to ensure that the expenditure does not cross the permissible limit of Rs 5 lakh, State Election Commissioner S Saharia announced on Saturday.

Saharia also conducted a meeting with Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta, divisional commissioners, collectors and officials from the police, income tax, customs departments on Saturday to give directions for the upcoming elections.

In order to keep a closer watch, the candidates will also have to submit a statement of all their campaign-related expenses every alternate day to the returning officer, from the day they file their nominations. “The Election Commission has appointed a team of 15 income tax officials for the BMC and another 40 officials for the remaining nine civic corporations, who will verify candidates’ account of expenses and report any discrepancies to the Election Commission,” said a civic official.

According to the norms, all candidates will mandatorily have to submit details of their property and criminal records online as part of their affidavit. “Apart from details of the properties they own, every candidate will have to explain the increase in their wealth since the last elections in 2012,” said a civic official. The records will be made public both at the polling booths as well as in the newspapers.

Under the municipal commissioner, around 10 committees have been formed, which will look into various aspects of campaigning, including paid news. In order to expedite the process of granting approvals, permissions for the campaigning activities will be given to the candidates through a single-window system. The Election Commission has also directed the BMC to take up measures to raise awareness about candidates.