ECI mandates CCTV in clubs and bars

Ahead of India’s general election in April-May 2024, authorities in Tamil Nadu have for the first time brought elite clubs and liquor-serving star hotels under surveillance ambit based on instructions from the Election Commission of India.

EC Directive and Scope

Seeking to closely monitor election expenditure by parties, the Election Commission of India (ECI) directed State Prohibition and Excise departments to ensure all clubs, bars and hotels holding FL-2 and FL-3 licenses are now covered under CCTV systems.

Inventory of Three-Star Plus Hotels

There are 98 three star and above classified hotels in Tamil Nadu as per Tourism Ministry records besides over 400 membership-based recreational clubs concentrated mostly in major cities.

The number of clubs across TN rose to 448 in the last few years from 125. The highest number of such recreational clubs are in Chennai, at 104.

Tracking Liquor Flows During Polls

As enforcing liquor prohibition from 48 hours before polling day necessitates preventing leakages from licensed exemption holders like clubs, it allows plugging loopholes that political parties may exploit for voter bribery.

Compulsory CCTV systems seek to bring poll-time transparency into activities of largely opaque elite social circles frequenting luxury hotels and posh member clubs which have swelled in numbers over the years without commensurate monitoring requirements.

Curbing Political Black Money Abuse

The ECI drive also intends curtailing misuse of political black money flowing into recreational spaces from dubious funding channels which get activated during intensive election campaigns for maintaining informal patronage networks.

In the past, star hotels have come under probe for facilitating high profile crime syndicate meets with links to shady legislative deals and allocation irregularities involving land, mining rights etc. justified upon public interest grounds.

TASMAC

The Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) is a company owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu. It has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcoholic beverages in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
90% of TASMAC bars in Chennai and its suburbs already have CCTV camera, as per media reports.

ECI Initiatives

The first copy of the ECI Publication Initiatives of ECI for Parliamentary Elections 2024’was recently presented to the President of India by Chief Election Commissioner Rajiv Kumar. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the initiatives undertaken by each division of the Election Commission of India to ensure free, fair, inclusive, accessible, and participatory conduct of elections.


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