Unaccounted Funds: ECI seizes over Rs 1760 Crores in 5 Poll-Bound States

In the run-up to the elections in Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, and Telangana, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has cracked down on unaccounted money, seizing a staggering Rs 1760 crores since the announcement of polls. This amount is a whopping seven times more than the Rs 239.15 crores seized during the 2018 elections in the same states.

The ECI’s vigilance extends beyond these five states, with over Rs 1400 crores confiscated in the previous state elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Karnataka combined. The table below illustrates the substantial increase in seizures since the commencement of election proceedings, as of November 20, 2023.

Table 1: Funds seized in the 5 Poll-Bound States

The surge in seized funds underscores the ECI’s commitment to maintaining the integrity of the electoral process. An unchecked flow of unaccounted money can skew democratic processes and compromise the fairness of elections. The ECI’s proactive measures signal a strong stance against corruption and the influence of illicit funds in the political landscape.

Legal Framework of ECI’s Vigilance against Unaccounted Money:

The ECI, acting as the guardian of fair elections, is granted authority to swiftly address instances of unaccounted money under section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. This pivotal role is crucial for ensuring the smooth conduct of elections to State Assemblies. Within this legal framework, any distribution of cash or rewards aimed at influencing electors is categorized as “Bribery” and, consequently, considered a “corrupt” practice.

Further strengthening the legal arsenal, section 171C of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) identifies inducements or attempts to influence candidates or voters as interference “with the free exercise of the electoral right of such candidate or voter.” 3

The Election Commission, recognizing the gravity of these issues, has issued comprehensive Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). These SOPs guide the actions of flying squads, specially constituted to monitor and curb excessive campaign expenses, prevent the distribution of bribes in cash or kind, and monitor the movement of illegal arms, ammunition, liquor, or anti-social elements.

Technology and Election Monitoring:

To enhance the oversight mechanisms, the Election Commission of India (ECI) has integrated technology into the electoral system with the Election Expenditure Monitoring System (ESMS). This technological advancement acts as a catalyst by fostering collaboration among various Central and State enforcement agencies, leading to improved coordination and intelligence sharing. The ESMS has emerged as a pivotal tool, facilitating a seamless exchange of information to streamline the monitoring process during elections.


The escalating trend in confiscating unreported funds during elections reflects two divergent and remarkable developments. Initially, the cost of participating in elections is surging, effectively deterring the educated middle class from engaging in politics. Consequently, there is a noticeable surge in the criminalization of politics. On the flip side, there is an increasing reliance on legal, technological, and institutional support to enable the Election Commission of India (ECI) to promptly address unaccounted election finances originating from undisclosed sources. Confronting the challenge of escalating financial influences in the electoral process, the Indrajit Gupta Committee on Transparency in Electoral Funding made key recommendations, emphasizing the disclosure of campaign funding sources and the enhancement of financial accountability.

While measures are being taken to diminish the impact of money & muscle power in politics, recent disclosures by the ECI underscore the imperative for further fortifying vigilance in the electoral process.


  1. Press Information Bureau. (2023). Seizures over Rs. 1760 Crores reported in five poll-going states since the announcement of Elections. Election Commission of India. To know more, visit https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1978164#:~:text=It%20may%20be%20recalled%20that,assembly%20elections%20in%20these%20states.
  2. The Representation of the People Act, 1951. https://www.parlament.cat/document/intrade/181101
  3. The Indian Penal Code. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/bitstream/123456789/2263/1/aA1860-45.pdf

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