The Election Commission (EC) has written to the finance ministry not to use indelible ink in banks for marking people who have exchanged the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes once, according to a report by news agency ANI.
In the letter, the EC has raised concerns that several states will be going to the polls in the near future and this is one of the major points to mark citizens who have already voted, the report said.
The EC seems to be worried that the use of the ink by banks will create confusion during the elections and will render is easy for unscrupulous elements to cash in on this to indulge in malpractices during the elections.
The government had on Wednesday said that the banks will use the indelible ink mark to identify customers who exchange old notes in order to curb the crowd in the banks and also prevent black money holders from using proxies to exchange their ill-gotten wealth through multiple transactions.
Customers are allowed to exchange old notes worth Rs 2,000 from bank branches only once. The remaining amount, if they have any, will have to deposited in their bank accounts. The limit until 17 November was Rs 4,500.
PTI had earlier reported that the Election Commission has asked the government to keep in mind the election laws on use of indelible ink while applying the method to check the suspicious customers.
the report said the EC had written to the finance ministry, reminding it that five states are going for by-poll on 19 November. The government should ensure that use of indelible ink on people depositing money in banks does not create problems for the voters in these states, the EC was reported to have said.
District election authorities in Puducherry had asked the banks and post offices to ensure that they applied the indelible ink mark on the right hand index finger of those seeking to exchange the scrapped currency notes. This is aimed at avoiding any confusion during the by-poll at Nellithope assembly segment. At polling booths, the ink is used on the left index finger.
The decision to mark customers with indelible ink has been criticised by many for various reasons.
For one, there are many women who have saved cash with much pain, hiding from the eyes of their abusive husbands. To mark them with the ink will be an ignominy for them. It is their genuine cash.
Secondly, even if this is a solution it has come too late. This is because many of the black money holders would have already used this route to whiten their un-taxed money. After the demonetisation announcement, banks were shut for one day on 9 November. They have been operating through the weekend, with just Monday holiday. This would have provided enough time for the black money holders to go ahead and exchange the old notes through multiple transactions.
Thirdly, a report in The Indian Express said there is only one company that is authorised to make this ink and at present there is no enough quantity available in the market to meet the demand from lakhs of bank branches. Due to this, banks are using products such as dhobi ink and even permamnet marker to mark the customers.
The EC's letter raising concerns seems to have just added to the practical difficulties arising from the government's 'innovation'.