Last Updated: April 11, 2023, 14:30 IST
Ahead of assembly elections in the state, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday said that election officers have the authority to search and confiscate materials only after the elections are announced. The court made the announcement as it ordered the release of rice bags seized from a social worker.
Ahmed, a resident of Shivajinagar had approached the court after the Returning Officer of the area seized 530 bags of rice of 25 kgs each from his residence on March 19 this year.
Giving a judgment on a petition filed by Isthiyak Ahmed, Justice M Nagaprasanna held that the Returning Officer or the election officials do not have any authority to search or seize any material before the announcement of elections, a PTI report said.
“After the declaration of elections, the entire domain would be open, but not till then. Seizure is to be exercised by the authority/officers under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, under normal circumstances. The Returning Officer and the Inspector of Police, who have conducted the search in the case at hand were not vested with such authority and their action is, therefore, illegal,” the court observed in a statement.
Merely because they are appointed as officers for conduct of elections, they cannot use the said power before the declaration of elections, the court noted.
In this plea to the court, Ahmed had said that despite the reply to the notice by the Returning Officer, the rice bags were not returned back to him. He distributed rice to the needy during festivals and the rice seized from him was meant for that, his plea stated.
“A mandamus issued to the respondents to release the seized rice bags to the custody of the petitioner forthwith, with the rider that the petitioner shallabide by the afore-quoted conditions,” the Court ordered.
Ahmed was directed to file an indemnity bond that he will not break the model code of conduct during the election.
(With PTI inputs)
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