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SC Asks EC to Amend Its Cash Seizure Directive
The Supreme Court today asked the Election Commission to amend its directive to randomly search and seize 'in-transit' cash in poll-bound Gujarat by making it clear that it will be applicable only to agents and workers of political parties carrying an amount above Rs 50,000.

A bench of justices D K Jain and Madan B Lokur passed the interim order after Election Commission agreed to amend its blanket order for seizing cash amount above Rs 2.5 lakh in transit during the Gujarat assembly elections.

"We want to make clear it that the directive shall be applicable for the agents and workers of the political parties. Our concern is that the common and ordinary citizen should not be harassed," the bench observed.

The bench said this interim arrangement will continue till the state assembly election and later it will hear the matter in detail.

It issued notice and sought response from Bhagyoday Jan Parishad and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the appeal filed by the Election Commission against the order of the Gujarat High Court which had quashed its directive for seizing cash above Rs 2.5 lakh saying it was unconstitutional.

The high court, on a PIL by Bhagyoday Jan Parishad and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, had on November 9 said that EC's directive to randomly search and seize 'in-transit' cash above Rs 2.5 lakh in poll-bound Gujarat was "unconstitutional" and directed it to immediately stop such operations.

"The instructions by the EC which empower its officers to randomly search any vehicle and seize cash above Rs 2.5 lakh is ultra vires (beyond powers) being violative of Article 21 of the Constitution, and also beyond the powers conferred on the EC," the high court had said.

"We direct the EC that (such) instructions shall not be implemented and there shall not be any indiscriminate or random search or seizure of any vehicle, unless there is any reliable or credible information with the EC," it had said.

The Election Commission directive, dated October 3, followed announcement of the state Assembly elections.

EC had deployed 587 static surveillance teams (SSTs) 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.

The search and seizure drive had caused a lot of resentment in the business community.
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