The Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) today moved a PIL in the high court challenging the Election Commission’s power to appoint surveillance teams, stating that they infringed upon a citizen’s fundamental rights.
In the petition, the GCCI said the EC’s power to appoint static/flying surveillance teams, which in turn is entitled to search any car or individual on the road, is against the fundamental right of a citizen.
A lawyer representing the Election Commission appeared before the division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi and sought time to seek instructions from the EC over the matter.
The high court, in its 2012 order on a similar petition by the industry body, GCCI, had held that random and indiscriminate search and seizure is against the fundamental right of a citizen.
The EC had moved the Supreme Court against the order but the apex court did not grant any stay.
“Even as the matter is being heard, the EC issued these new standard operating procedures in the 2017 Assembly elections, which are scheduled to be held in two phases on December 9 and December 14,” the GCCI said in the petition.
EC’s lawyer told the court that since the matter is pending before the Supreme Court, he needed to take instruction from the EC. The court granted time and the matter will be heard on Monday next week.
If cash of Rs 50,000 or more is found by the surveillance team, it can search and seize the cash or any valuables on the basis of suspicion and initiate action.
“The EC does not have the power to issue any instructions which would violate the fundamental rights of privacy of any citizens…The EC cannot trouble the common citizen in the guise of curbing the use of cash by political parties,” the GCCI petition said.
( Source – PTI )