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Ask enforcement agencies to be neutral: EC tells Finance Ministry

The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from April 11 and counting will held on May 23

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Bilari bypolls

The Election Commission Sunday "strongly advised" the Finance Ministry that any action by its enforcement agencies during election time should be "neutral" and "non-discriminatory".

The poll panel's advice came amid allegations that the government was using the agencies to target rival parties in the poll season.

In a letter to the Union revenue secretary, the commission said it would like to "strongly advise that all enforcement actions during the election period, even when conducted ruthlessly with a view to curb this blatant electoral malpractice, should be absolutely neutral, impartial and non-discriminatory." The Income Tax department, Enforcement Directorate and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence are the executive arm of the Department of Revenue in dealing with financial crimes.

In case of suspected use of illicit money for electoral purposes, the chief electoral officer of the state must be kept "suitably informed" during the model code of conduct period, it said.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha election starts from April 11 and counting will held on May 23.

The Income Tax department has carried out raids in Madhya Pradesh on Sunday and in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the recent past.

The opposition has alleged that rival parties are being singled out by the ruling dispensation in the poll season.

The letter also highlighted that money power with the intention of influencing voters' behaviour has over the years emerged as one of the biggest challenges for conduct of free, fair, ethical and credible The EC said it is understood that all enforcement agencies working under the administrative control of the finance ministry's revenue department must be undertaking enforcement actions based on inputs and actionable intelligence, as per extant laws.

First Published: Mon, April 08 2019. 02:55 IST