KOLKATA: Jewellers have approached the chief election commissioner and his state level counterparts to restrain the police, alleging harassment by law enforcement after the model code of conduct came into force on March 10.
The two leading jewellery associations, India Bullion & Jewellers’ Association (IBJA) and All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council, alleged that both businesses and customers were being harassed by the police for carrying either cash or jewellery worth Rs 50,000 or more.
“There is fear in the trade and among the consumers over the recent incidents…People are being harassed, resulting in sales not moving up even though there are a number of wedding dates in April,” said Anantha Padmanabhan, chairman, All India Gem & Jewellery Domestic Council. “We are speaking to the state election commissioners in south India. Our representatives are in Delhi, trying to meet the chief election commissioner and let him know about the situation.” Gold sales in the spring-summer festive season, which also coincides with weddings across most parts of India, could be affected, jewellers said.
“The festive season has started from Gudi Padva (April 6) and will continue until May 7. The elections will, however, continue until May 19. So, from March 10 to May 19, the business is getting affected,” said Surendra Mehta, national secretary, IBJA. “If there are enough documents complying with GST rules, neither jewelers nor bullion dealers and consumers should be harassed. If there is any discrepancy in the papers, then steps should be taken against the people concerned.” IBJA has already approached various state election commissioners to highlight what it called police harassment.
“Jewellers from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kerala and Bihar are facing police harassment,” Mehta alleged. According to the model code of conduct, during the election period, the maximum amount of cash that can be carried by an individual is Rs 50,000. To carry any amount beyond this, necessary documents, including legal source of the funds and their end use, will be required.
To carry more than Rs 10 lakh in cash, an individual must inform the income-tax department. If an individual is found with cash exceeding Rs 10 lakh without prior information, the election commission would inform the tax authorities and the sum would be released only after the taxmen are satisfied. Separately, the recent fall in gold prices has failed to drive demand, said Aditya Pethe, director, WHP Jewellers.
“An investor buys gold to diversify the portfolio, and purchase decisions are not triggered by fluctuations like those we are seeing currently,” Pethe said.