Lok Sabha polls 2019: Election Commission to deploy more special expenditure observers, 120 sensitive seats identified

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

PTI New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 25, 2019, 09.40 PM (IST)

The Election Commission (EC) is set to increase the number of 'special expenditure observers' to monitor illegal cash and inducements being given to voters during the Lok Sabha polls as it has identified about 120 expenditure sensitive constituencies till now in the country, officials said Monday.

The poll body, last week, appointed two retired Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax) officers as special expenditure observers for Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. This is the first time that such observers have been appointed for any polls in the country.

They said few more such observers could be appointed by the next week to oversee the work of about 800 central expenditure monitoring teams and observers who track black money, liquor, drugs and other freebies given to voters illegally.

The maximum number of election expenditure observers are drawn from the Indian Revenue Service (Income Tax), while others belong to the IRS (Indirect Taxes and Customs).

Officials said the Election Commission, till now, has identified about 120 expenditure sensitive constituencies in the country for general elections and it is awaiting the report of some state Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs) to identify more such segments.

The identified expenditure sensitive constituencies are in the states of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Gujarat, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand, among others, while a similar report from states like Maharashtra and few others are awaited.

An expenditure sensitive constituency is identified as a seat which is prone to high expenditure and corrupt practices. For such a constituency, the Election Commission rules mandate, there shall be two assistant expenditure observers, a similar number of flying squads, static surveillance teams and video surveillance teams.

The Election Commission on Monday also reviewed the poll preparedness with the two special observers for the subject, Shailendra Handa (Maharashtra) and Madhu Mahajan (Tamil Nadu) here.

The full Election Commission bench, comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, will hold the second review meeting with all the central observers -- general, police and expenditure -- on Tuesday at Vigyan Bhawan.

The first such meeting was held early this month.

The seven-phase election will begin on April 11 and conclude on May 19.

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The Election Commission on Monday also reviewed the poll preparedness with the two special observers for the subject, Shailendra Handa (Maharashtra) and Madhu Mahajan (Tamil Nadu) here.