Seized cash not counted as poll expenses: EC tells SC

Seized cash not counted as poll expenses: EC tells SC

The Election Commission has told the Supreme Court that it has prepared a standard operating procedure for the flying squads on receipt of complaints of storage of cash or other materials during the polls.

However, seized cash is not treated as election expenditure till the case is finally decided in court, it said.

The Union government, however, sought more time from a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Mohan M Shantanagoudar to respond to its query why criminal cases pertaining to election frauds including bribing of voters were not pursued effectively.

Though the bench granted four weeks time to the Centre, the court orally observed, “it seems by the time you would file your reply, the next elections would be around the corner.”

The court was hearing a plea made by the Karnataka government against quashing of a criminal case registered against businessman Prathik Parasrampuria on April 11, 2014 on recovery of cash over Rs 20.48 lakh and other materials by Election Commission’s flying squad from Bellary Lok Sabha constituency.

The High Court of Karnataka on February 12, 2015, quashed the criminal case against Parasrampuria, saying the FIR did not contain any assertion as to whom the accused intended to bribe and the mode which he had planned to adopt.

The top court after admitting the Karnataka government’s plea against the high court’s order had earlier sought to know from the EC as well as the Union government why poll fraud cases were not pursued effectively.

In its affidavit, the EC said, for maintaining purity of the elections, it has issued standard operating procedure for flying squads, static surveillance teams and check posts, constituted for keeping vigil over excessive campaign expenses, distribution of items of bribe in cash or in kind, movement of illegal arms, ammunition, liquor and activities of anti-social elements etc in the constituency during the election process.

The members of flying squad and static surveillance teams should not be assigned any duty for more than eight hours to the extent possible in a day and teams are to be dismantled immediately after polls, it said.

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