[Polity] Right to carry cash and Right to be left alone

[Polity] Right to carry cash and Right to be left alone

  1. Background: Right to Carry Cash
  2. Problems in Model Code of Conduct
  3. Constitutional articles involved
  4. HC Verdict on Right to carry cash
  5. Mock questions

Background: Right to Carry Cash

  • December 2012= State Assembly elections in Gujarat. Model code of conduct (MCC) is in effect since October.
  • Under this Model code of conduct, EC officials started searching vehicles and premises to seize cash/(desi) liquor meant for influencing voters.
  • Whenever cash, gold etc worth Rs 2.5 lakh/more were found, they’d notify the income tax (I-T) department.
  • and I-T officials will reach the spot in the shortest possible time for inspection.

Problems in implementation of MCC

  • Among Gujarati businessmen, much of the cash-transactions are carried by private couriers (and not through regular banking channels).
  • So EC squads ended up seizing lot of cash that was not meant to influence voters, but just part of routine business activities.
  • EC earlier used to seize gold-biscuits and jewellery in transit also.
  • But Some EC officials were arrested for robbing silver bricks from a trader in the name of search and seizure. So EC had to direct its squads not to seize bullion and jewellery!

All of this was creating much inconvenience to the businesspersons = Public Interest Litigation (PILs) filed in Gujarat Highcourt.

Constitutional articles involved

21 Protection of life and personal liberty.
226 Power of High Courts to issue writs.
324 Power of supreintedence, direction and control of election =vested in an Election Commission.

HC Verdict on Right to carry cash

  • Supreme Court has already said that a person, as long as he does not break the law, would be entitled to enjoy life and liberty.
  • Therefore, “Right to be let alone” is recognised to be a right that falls under Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty).
  • Hence Election Commission’s order of seizing cash above Rs 2.5 lakh is Ultra vires (beyond powers) of EC, because it violates Article 21
  • We direct the EC to stop this activity.
  • Search and seizure should not take place unless there is some specific input/intelligence that money is being transferred to influence the voters.

Mock questions

1. Which of the following statements are correct?

  1. Under Article 324, EC enjoys the Power of supreintedence, direction and control over Elections.
  2. The writ jurisdiction of Supreme Court is smaller than that of High court.
  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both
  4. None

2. Which of the following is not a right provided under Art. 21?

  1. Right to be left alone
  2. Right to fair trial
  3. Right against Custodial harassment.
  4. Right to be released after 24 hours, unless magistrate authorises further detention.

Essay

  1. “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”
  2. “The liberty of speaking and writing guards our other liberties.”

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