The Supreme Court today asked the centre to come up with a status report on all the cases related to cash seizures made during the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections within 24 hours.
The court, which was hearing a petition by the Karnataka government against a high court verdict to scrap a case of cash seizure in the Bellary Lok Sabha constituency five years ago, found the information provided by the centre grossly inadequate. "Why are you submitting Election Commission data when you have agencies like the CBDT (Central Board of Direct Taxation) and Income Tax department who investigate these matters... Get all the details from these authorities and file an affidavit by tomorrow," it ordered.
The court followed it up with a sharp jibe. "If you cannot do this on your own, bring these agencies under the Election Commission's control," the bench told the centre, posting the next hearing for Thursday.
The Supreme Court is examining the larger issue of what happens to such cases once the polls are over. During a previous hearing, the court had observed that no political party wants to empower the Election Commission for fear that it may "cause them problems".
The Election Commission maintains that once the cases are initiated, it is the duty of the state to pursue them.
Cash and goods worth Rs 100 crore are being seized by enforcement agencies every day in the ongoing elections. While Rs 1,200 crore in cash and contraband were seized in 2014, the figure touched Rs 3,205 crore in just the first three phases of the ongoing polls.