New Delhi: Few days ahead of the five state elections, the Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Center and the Election Commission Of India regarding the freebies announced by the political parties as poll promises.
The apex court sought responses from the Center and the ECI on a PIL seeking a direction to seize the election symbol or de-register a political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” from public funds before elections.
A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli sought the response in four weeks on the PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.
The top court heard the plea which said there should be a total ban on such populist measures to gain undue political favor from voters as they violate the Constitution and the ECI should take suitable deterrent measures.
The plea also urged the court to declare that the promise of irrational freebies from public funds before elections unduly influences the voters, disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the purity of the poll process.
The petition filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has, as an alternative, sought a direction to the Center to enact a law in this regard.
Petitioner submits that recent trend of political parties to influence voters by offering freebies with an eye on elections is not only the greatest threat to the survival of democratic values but also injures the spirit of the Constitution, said the plea filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, According to a PTI report.
This unethical practice is just like giving bribes to the electorate at the cost of the exchequer to stay in power and must be avoided to preserve democratic principles and practices, it said.
The petition also sought a direction to the ECI to insert an additional condition in the relevant paragraphs of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968, which deals with conditions for recognition as a state party, that a “political party shall not promise/ distribute irrational freebies from the public fund before the election”.
The petitioner had urged the apex court to declare that promise or distribution of private goods or services, which are not for public purposes, from public funds before the election violates several articles of the Constitution, including Article 14 (equality before law).
(with PTI inputs)
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