Chennai, May 17: The seizure of Rs 570 crore which led to the postponement of elections in two Tamil Nadu constituencies has been mired in confusion. While the Election Commission of India said that this was money meant to bribe the voters, the State Bank of India has claimed that this money is theirs'.
It is stated that as per the instructions from the Reserve Bank of India, the Coimbatore main branch of the SBI had released the money to authorised personnel. They were addressing a temporary cash shortage in Andhra Pradesh, but the vehicle carrying the money was stopped and taken to Tirupur.
There is a great deal of confusion over this issue since the flying squad had found that the money was not being transferred in a professional manner. In fact one of the personnel on duty to guard the cash were not even dressed in uniform.
The EC official says that when asked why they were dressed in lungis and carrying money in the night, there was no proper answer.
Whose money is it
The SBI vouches for the authenticity of the cash and says it belongs to them. They also said that they have enough documents to suggest that it was their money being moved to the Vizag branch.
The EC squad however had plenty of reason to suspect. Although there is no written rule, such huge chunks of cash are not transported by banks in the night. The squad was surprised with the transport of such a huge chunk of cash in the night.
Secondly the manner in which the personnel in the vehicle were dressed added to the confusion. The security were in lungis and they had no proper answer when asked why.
There was also more confusion due to discrepancies in a document. The squad on going through the documents found that there was a minor difference in what the cashier's note had to say and the original document.
However this was clarified and the RBI says that this difference was found as the Vizag branch had been upgraded from a normal branch to a specialised currency administration branch.
While SBI maintains that such transportations are a routine affair many have questioned the logic. The fact that it was being transported in the dead of the night did not make much sense. The unprofessional manner in which the personnel in the vehicle were dressed also raised doubts.
Political parties have sought for a CBI probe into the matter. Former Union Finance Minister, P Chidambaram while speaking on the incidents said that he is not aware whether such a large sum of money can be transported to a bank. It is quite rare and needs to be probed he also said.