Even the cash seized did not match the figure cited in the FIR. It was against this order, the Karnataka government approached apex court.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to furnish details of cash seized during the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It also wanted a status report of the complete list of cases of unaccounted cash lodged by the Election Commission.
A Bench of Justices N.V. Ramana and M. Shantanagouder gave this direction on an appeal by Karnataka government challenging a high court order setting aside the case registered by the EC against a Bellary-based businessman.
Unaccounted cash or valuables and suspect items being seized by the commission’s officials are a regular occurrence during elections. But what happens once a seizure is made — are the accused caught and the case resolved? the Bench wanted to examine this aspect. The commission informed the court that a total of 4,937 cases of illegal seizures were lodged during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
In the previous hearings, the Bench expressed its displeasure when neither the Election Commission nor the Centre gave adequate information in this regard. The Commission claimed that their job ends with the registration of the first information report (FIR), while the Centre maintained that during Lok Sabha polls, they follow a hands-off approach.
The matter has to be then pursued by the respective state governments who seldom have any interest to punish the offenders, who happen to be candidates of the party or the alliance in power.
The appeal arose from an order passed by the Karnataka high court on February 12, 2015 quashing a case of unaccounted wealth against a businessman in Bellary.
A case under Sections 171E (bribery) and 188 (disobeying order of public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) were registered against him. With elections over, the matter stood transferred to the Karnataka government. Quashing the FIR, the Karnataka High Court noted in its order that the prosecution miserably failed to establish to whom the “bribe” was intended to be paid as there was no complaint by the victim or any affected people. Even the cash seized did not match the figure cited in the FIR. It was against this order, the Karnataka government approached apex court.
During the resumed hearing on Tuesday counsel for Centre furnished the records, which indicated the cash, seized during the 2014 polls. But the Bench was not happy when the Centre failed to indicate the status of the cases pending in various courts.
When the counsel said that the Centre has practically no role left to play in such matters after the General Elections are announced, the bench said that the Centre with all agencies like Income tax department and Central Board of Direct Taxes at its command must ensure that cases are taken to its logical end. The bench directed the Centre to furnish by tomorrow a list of all such cases from 2014 and 2019 elections and the total cash seized and posted the case for further hearing on Thursday.
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