Five silver bricks, which were recovered from the SST members yesterday, were taken away by them from an employee of a Rajasthan-based trader when they were checking vehicles to enforce EC rule of seizure of more than Rs 2.5 lakh unaccounted cash in transit, to check use of black money in elections.
The five have have been suspended. “All the accused were suspended today by their respective departments,” said District Collector L C Patel.
SSTs have been formed to check cash in transit and they have been deployed across the state, which goes to polls next month.
“After recovery of 2.9 kg silver (bricks) worth Rs 1.7 lakh from squad members A T Patel, an engineer in Irrigation department; head constable Babubhai Bikhabhai; constables Rakesh Amrutlal and Dhaval Kumar; and home guard Shailesh Vankar, they have been arrested,” said a police officer.
Squad videographer Rajesh Prajapati managed to escape, they said.
According to police, the squad during checking at Rana Syed bypass crossing stopped a Rajasthan state transport bus and detained a person with 12.5 kg silver (15 bricks).
They let him go after forcibly taking five bricks weighing around 2.9 kg.
The person, who was coming from Banswada district in Rajasthan, was on way to deliver the consignment to a trader in Rajkot, and reportedly was not carrying documents to prove that the bullion was meant for trade purposes and was not illegal.
Later, he lodged a complaint with local intelligence branch here and narrated the entire episode. He also called his shop owner from Soorpur in Banswada district of Rajasthan, who showed papers for the consignment, police said.
A case has been registered with Modasa’s police intelligence branch and further investigation is on, they added.
Traders in various parts of the state have been alleging harassment by surveillance squad members and have already lodged a complaint with the Eelection Commission.
HC questions EC’s power to seize cash
A division bench of the Gujarat High Court Tuesday raised questions over the power of Election Commission to seize money from people during election process and that too before the names of candidates are declared.
The bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala is hearing two public interest litigations challenging the EC’s rule of seizing unaccounted cash in transit exceeding Rs 2.5 lakh.
The PILs have been moved by a voluntary organisation and Gujarat Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI). The petitioners have contended that the EC rule is causing inconvenience and harassment to general public.
The petitioners argued that under the provisions of Constitution of India as well as the Representation of The People Act 1951 read together, the Election Commission has no powers to carry out surprise searches and seizures of cash before the nomination of candidates. They argued that the powers of EC to do so, if valid, would apply only after the candidates file their nomination and until the election results are declared.
During the hearing, speaking on behalf of the bench, Justice Bhattacharya raised questions over the rule and observed, “Section 77 of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1950 gives power to EC only after the issuance of notification for filing of nominations.”
The bench observed that if there were agencies like Income Tax and Anti-Corruption Bureau, what prompted EC to act in such proactive manner.
EC’s counsel contended that the Constitution confers absolute powers on EC to curb the flow of unaccounted money during election period.
The hearing is expected to continue on Wednesday.
Because there is no Lokpal, these public servants dare to indulge in corrupt activities as they know their master will save them or no one can touch them. This show that a strong Lokpal is essential.
This will be the fate of Lokpal. Tomorrow, one Poojariwal and Thamma Hazare will be fasting to have LOkpool to control Lokpal corruption. What is required is cultural change from public not agitation .To have corruption free Politicians, the Public should be civilised and cultured . Let us work for civilisation . There may not be any need to have Lokpal or Lokpool.