Movement of saris, shirts, caps, masks, scarves, party flags associated with the candidates or the political party in a poll without an e-way bill may be confiscated, a Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) prepared by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Custom (CBIC) to track poll expenditure said on Monday.

The SoP aims at stepping up of preventive vigilance mechanism by the CBIC field formations and to prevent flow of suspicious cash, illicit liquor, drugs/narcotics, freebies and smuggled goods during elections. This information has been made public at a time when elections are scheduled to take place in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Telangana within the next five months, followed by the general election in the first half of the next fiscal year.

EC concerned

“Election Commission of India (ECI) has expressed concern that smuggled goods/contrabands and other illicit articles may be used to lure the voters during the election process, which would need to be checked by the law enforcement agencies including those of the CBIC. Another aspect that would require focused attention is the use of non-monetary inducements and cash to lure voter which too would need to be checked by keeping strict vigil on warehouses etc. to prevent the stocking of such goods for distribution,” CBIC said giving explanation for the rationale behind issuing the SoP.

It has been said that Principal Chief Commissioners and Chief Commissioner of Custom of GST officials in various zones will establish a Central Control Room and designate a nodal officer. “They will also establish sufficient number of Flying Squads and Static Surveillance Teams for effective conduct of road and transit checks of vehicles and verification of warehouses, etc to curb illegal and prohibited activities in order to ensure against unauthorised diversion of liquor, cigarettes, etc” it said while calling for special watch or stock-taking to be carried out in the Custom Bonded Warehouses.”

Declared or registered and other warehouses in the respective States/ UTs will be mapped and strict vigil will be kept on these to ensure that there is no poll related untoward activities taking place or material being kept in these places.The Directorate General of Analytics and Risk Management (DG ARM) shall carry out a special analytical study of items (sarees, shirts, caps, masks, scarves, white goods, kitchen items, etc.) that might be associated with the candidate or political party in the poll-bound assembly or constituency and could be used as an inducement for votes in the said States.

Additionally, during elections, GST teams conduct thorough checks of e-way bills at checkpoints to prevent the movement of goods without valid GST invoices or e-way bills. This measure aims to prevent the distribution of goods in poll-bound areas with the intention of influencing voters.

Another area to be tracked would be petrol pumpas “coupon-based fuel is potential source for alluring prospective voters,” the SoP said.

Commenting on the SoP, Rajat Mohan, Senior Partner with AMRG, said, “Collaboration with the Election Commission of India under a standard policy would be in the national interest, deterring the influence of unscrupulous elements. Digital initiatives like e-way bills and e-invoicing coupled with RFID would be a great tool in the hands of the election commission of India, supplying real-time information.”