SC to hear PIL against promises of freebies by parties during polls

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider listing for an urgent hearing a plea seeking direction to register FIRs against political parties for allegedly inducing voters by offering freebies.
Supreme Court
Supreme CourtReuters

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to consider listing for an urgent hearing a plea seeking direction to register FIRs against political parties for allegedly inducing voters by offering freebies.

A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana took note of the submissions of lawyer Barun Kumar Sinha that the plea filed by Hindu Sena vice president Surjit Singh Yadav on the issue needed hearing in view of the fact that assembly polls in five states are getting over.

“We will list it,” said the bench which also comprised justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli.

Yadav, in the PIL, has said he was aggrieved by the offer and promises made by the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP and Aam Aadmi Party in the assembly election being held in five states.

“Such an offer or promise by a political party, its leader, candidates set up in the elections, may be declared to be indulging in corrupt practices and bribery in terms of provisions of Section 123 (1)(b) of the Representations of People Act, 1951 and the candidates set up by such political parties may be declared disqualified from contesting the election in that state.

“This is important for free and fair voting of the candidates of elector choice. Further to maintain the purity of the election process, corrupt practices adopted by the political parties, their agents, candidates and leaders must be deprecated at the threshold,” said the plea filed through advocate Barun Kumar Sinha.

The petition requested that the Election Commission be directed to evolve a mechanism for candidates to declare during filing of their nomination that their parties have not made any offer and promise of freebies at the cost of public money.

“If such declarations by the candidates are found wrong, such candidates must be declared disqualified from contesting the election and if elected, such election may be declared void,” the plea said.

Besides the Centre and the poll panel, the plea has sought to make the Congress, Samajwadi Party, BSP and the Aam Aadmi Party as parties.

Earlier, the top court had issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission on another PIL filed by SC lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay saying offering freebies is a “serious issue” as sometimes “freebie budget is going beyond regular budget”.

Upadhyay had sought a direction to the EC to seize the symbol or deregister a political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” before polls.

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