A PIL was filed by Ashwani Upadhyay in the Supreme Court, last week to deregister political parties promising or distributing freebies before the election from the public funds. The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of CJI NV Ramanna, Justice Hima Kohli, and Justice A.S. Bopanna acted on the PIL to issue an order to both EC and Centre, regarding the serious issue of canvassing votes but also pointed out how the petitioner was selective in his approach to naming only two political parties and States.
The plea cited the following examples namely:
The following examples from the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections were cited in the petition:
1. The Aam Aadmi Party promised a monthly stipend of Rs. 1,000 to every woman over the age of 18;
2. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) offered each woman Rs. 2000 to lure them.
3. Following that, Congress not only promised every housewife $2,000 per month and 8 gas cylinders annually, but also a Scooty to every collage going girl, 20,000 after passing 12th grade, 15,000 after passing 10th grade, 10,000 after passing 8th grade, and 5,000 after passing 5th grade.
4. For the UP Assembly elections, the Congress Party promised a smartphone to every girl in Class 12, a Scooty to every girl pursuing a degree, free public transportation for women, eight free gas cylinders per year to every housewife, and free medical treatment up to Rs 10 lakh to every household
Further, the petitioner is also contending about the distribution of money and irrational freebies which has reached alarming levels. This practice violates Articles 14, 162, 266(3), and 282 of the Indian Constitution and is similar to the ‘bribery and undue influence’ under Sections 171B and 171C of the Indian Penal Code.
The petitioner also asked ECI to add a condition to Sections 6A, 6B, and 6C of the Election Symbols Order,1968 that states that “political parties shall not promise/distribute irrational freebies from the public fund before the election.”
Nevertheless, the SC acted on the plea and issued notice for the same.