In a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Election Commission of India has introduced an app called ESMS (Election Seizure Management System) that gives a complete visibility of seizures, both cash and kind in real time.
“All the officers who are heading the income tax investigation teams in the 33 districts of Telangana, those at the State level and all the key representatives of law-enforcing agencies are logged into the app,” Karthik Manickam M, Additional Director of Income Tax (Investigation), told businessline.
Manickam, who is the nodal officer (elections) from the IT department, said that the local officers are constantly feeding info into the app whenever seizures of money, liquor, jewellery and narcotics are made in the election-bound State.
The app gives real time visibility of the seizures and raises a flag to the Election Commission and relevant law enforcing agencies, allowing them to take quick action.
Apart from this app, the IT department is also using big data analytics to crunch the data of financial transactions through various digital intelligence solutions to keep an eye on the movement of high value transactions.
Sanjay Bahadur, Director General of Income Tax (Investigation - Hyderabad), said an amount of ₹53.93 crore, 156 kilo grams of gold jewellery and 454 kg of silver had been seized in Telangana after the EC announced the election schedule for the Assembly polls in the State.
About ₹11 crore had been released back after verifying the documents. “We found that an amount of ₹1.76 crore was unaccounted. We are verifying the veracity of the claims with regard to the remaining cash. The verification of seizure data received is being done on a real time basis,” he said.
Of the total amount seized, the IT sleuths seized ₹14.80 crore based on the intelligence gathered on its own, with the remaining coming from the random checkings by the State police and the officers on the field in various parts of the State.
Briefing the measures taken by the IT department to ensure free and fair elections at a press conference here on Wednesday, he appealed to people to pass on information regarding suspicious movement of cash intended for “illegitimate use in elections”.
He said the two airports in Hyderabad have also been under surveillance by special IT intelligence units. “We have alerted all the airports in the country that are connected with the Hyderabad airport. We are also closely monitoring the movement of chartered flights and helicopters that are making sorties in and out of the city,” he said.
Asserting that the department is monitoring cash seizures of amounts above ₹10 lakh, he said that all the State-Level Bankers Committee (SLBC) banks and other relevant sources were directed to inform the department about suspicious and unusual transactions.