Cautioned against its “over-anxiety” regarding the last date, the Election Commission on Monday agreed before the Supreme Court to do away with its blanket order on immediate seizure of cash over Rs 2.5 lakh being transported in vehicles in poll-bound Gujarat.
Modifying its circular on search and seizure of people and vehicles, EC’s counsel submitted before a Bench, led by Justices D K Jain, that they were willing to amend the impugned in the ‘Instruction on Election Expenditure Monitoring order’ and replace it with another provision.
“We have modified the provision in order to balance the interests of free and fair election on one hand and no inconvenience to the people on the other. The old provision has been dropped,” said senior advocate Ashok Desai as he sought to finalise the new provision with the assistance of the court.
The issue, however, failed to see its finality on Monday after Bhagyoday Jan Parishad and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which have challenged the validity of the EC's mandate, claimed that the amended provision was not clear. The Bench then posted the matter for further hearing on Friday.
The EC has moved the apex court against a Gujarat High Court judgment, which had declared as 'unconstitutional' the Commission's order that people and vehicles be searched and cash over Rs 2.5 lakh being transported in Gujarat be seized.
The HC had also ordered the EC to immediately stop the random search and seizure of cash being carried out ahead of the Assembly polls in the state. It had ruled that the EC action amounted to violation of the citizens' right of privacy and free movement as envisaged under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The ruling on November 9 had come on two PILs, which claimed that random search and seizure by teams of EC is putting curbs on trading activity ahead of the festive season of Diwali.
On the last date of hearing, the apex court had observed: “It (EC) has done good work in the last few years and we must appreciate it. We must give credit to you for this but sometimes you do things in over-anxiety.”
The Commission had deployed 587 static surveillance teams and 182 flying squads in the state, which have so far seized Rs 22.56 crore of unaccounted money, of which Rs 22.20 crore was handed over to the Income Tax department.