Observing that there cannot be a blanket immunity that would render useless the Election Commission of India (ECI) order that prescribed not carrying more than Rs 50,000 in cash, the Madras High Court on Monday dismissed a writ petition filed by Coimbatore Corporation Contractors’ Welfare Association seeking a direction to ECI to permit those with an annual turnover of Rs 10 crore and above to carry up to Rs 15 lakh.
Hearing the plea seeking permission for contractors to carry more money to enable them pay the workers, the first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said, “The petition seeking to ensure cash distribution is aimed at rendering the Election Commission toothless in carrying out such inspection of such cash movement.”
Pointing out that there was no restriction on cash movement as long as there was appropriate explanation and documents to establish the purpose it is meant for, the bench said: “The Election Commission is free to inspect/check and ascertain whether the money being carried is excessive or not.”
The court then stressed that the commission could confiscate the unexplained money.
Claiming that the contractors have to pay wages once a week, the plea said they would have no other document other than cash withdrawal document and sought an exemption to carry more cash than the prescribed limit of Rs 50,000.
The plea had suggested ECI to allow contractors with a turnover of Rs 2 crore to carry Rs 2 lakh; Rs 5 lakh for those with a turnover of Rs 5 crore; Rs 10 lakh for those with Rs 10 crore turnover; and Rs 15 lakh for those with more than Rs 10 crore turnover.