CBIC issues SoP to check use of freebies, liquor to lure voters


Ahead of assembly elections in states and general elections next year, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has released the standard operating procedure for preventive vigilance mechanisms to prevent flow of suspicious cash, illicit liquor, drugs/narcotics, freebies and smuggled goods during elections.

In line with directions of the Election Commission, which had expressed concerns that smuggled goods/contrabands and other illicit articles may be used to lure the voters during the election process, the CBIC has directed its field formations to monitor use of both monetary and non-monetary items to lure voters during elections.

In a communication to its field officials dated July 6, the CBIC said the GST and Customs officials will be required to monitor the distribution of coupon-based or free fuel or cash for alluring prospective voters under the new SoP. The officials would also monitor fuel consumption by candidates and parties and keep a tab on expenditure on food, hotels, parties, tent houses etc. The GST officers would keep an extensive check on restaurant/eateries, marriage halls/ farm houses/ slaughter house/ meat house in the poll-bound area, the CBIC said.

The GST and Customs officials would also set up “flying squads and static surveillance teams” for the effective conduct of road and transit checks of vehicles, and verification of warehouses to curb illegal and prohibited activities, according to the SoP released ahead of the assembly elections due in five states — Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Telangana and Mizoram — and Lok Sabha elections next year.

The CBIC asked the chief commissioners and Principal Director Generals of Customs and GST to closely monitor the steps taken by the field formations to implement the directions of the ECI, especially in the use of non-monetary inducements (sarees, shirts, caps, scarves, white goods, masks, kitchen items etc.) and cash to lure voters.

The tax officers would also have to apprehend smuggled/ illicit and other goods, identify warehouses used to stock goods for distribution to lure voters, cash movement etc. and also disseminate information to and from other enforcement agencies/departments.

The tax officers will be required to send a report on a daily basis to the Election Commission of India.

In order to act against unauthorised diversion of liquor, cigarettes etc., special watch/stock-taking should be kept/ carried out in the Customs Bonded Warehouses, the SoP said. “All out efforts should be made to detect and seize illicit currency, liquor, gold, FICN, NDPS and other contraband,” the CBIC said.

The Directorate General of Analytics and Risk Management (DG ARM) shall study the surge patterns of the specified freebies that might be associated with the candidate or political party to and within a state and analyse the place of storage of such goods.

Data analysis should be done on identified sensitive sectors as well as groups/ organisations/ individuals known to generate/ deal in unaccounted cash and share information with the Income Tax Department, wherever warranted.

The GST officers have been mandated to check e-way bills extensively at checkpoints during elections to ensure that the specified goods are not moving without a proper GST invoice or e-way bill for distribution in the poll-bound area to influence voters.

The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) will increase its vigil along the international border/ airports and its information gathering mechanism to check the flow of foreign currency/ gold/ narcotics etc. that could potentially be used for malpractices during the elections.


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