New Delhi, Aug 28: The Election Commission (EC) has set the ball rolling for next year's Assembly polls in five states, including Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, as it has sought 200 Income Tax department officers from the government to work for it as observers to check the menace of black money.
The officers of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) cadre have been sought from their cadre controlling authority, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), and is part of the special deputation of these officers which the EC seeks every time it conducts polls in the country.
The EC wrote to the CBDT early this month seeking the manpower for conducting Assembly polls in Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, Goa and Uttar Pradesh apart from other by-elections during the same period in some other states.
"Deployment of Expenditure Observers and the close observation of process of elections at the constituency level has become an integral part of election management in the country.
As the micro management has become a proven methodology, the role of observer in ensuring free and fair election in the country has become more and more relevant in recent times.
"Having made a detailed study of the requirement of Expenditure Observers during above said period, the Election Commission has decided to get a list of names of 200 IRS (Income Tax) officers sponsored for consideration to be appointed as Election Observers," the EC said in its communication to the CBDT.
These officers will act as the supervisors of the special surveillance teams deployed by the EC during the polls period to keep a check on black funds and other illegal inducements. Apart from I-T department, officers from other central and Group 'A' services are also brought on deputation to EC to act as observers in various other roles.
The EC had, in 2010, created a special cell called the Election Expenditure monitoring cell in its establishment to conduct free and fair elections and ensure a level playing field for all candidates and voters by curbing the usage of black money and illicit funds.
The cell, in its six years of existence, has brought out some maiden initiatives like introduction of shadow expenditure registers, deployment of surveillance teams and coordination with specialist agencies like Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and others, to check black money in polls.
A senior I-T officer was this week posted in the cell after its top post of Director General (Election Expenditure) was lying vacant for close to a year. Another appointment of Director in the cell could be made soon to assist the DG.