SC Issues Notice to Centre, EC on PIL Against 'Freebies for Votes' Before Polls

The PIL was filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay.

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SC Issues Notice to Centre, EC on PIL Against 'Freebies for Votes' Before Polls
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, 25 January, sought replies from the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on a PIL seeking direction to seize the election symbol or de-register a political party that distributes 'irrational freebies' and promises cash to voters ahead of the Assembly elections.

The PIL was filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, and it cited the Aam Aadmi Party’s poll promise of providing Rs 1,000 per month to every woman in Punjab.

‘Not a Level Playing Field’: SC

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli noted that while this was a "serious issue", the court could only take limited action.

According to LiveLaw, CJI Ramana said, “It is a serious issue, no doubt. The freebie budget is going beyond the regular budget, and sometimes, as observed by the SC, it's not a level playing field for some parties. In a limited scope, what we can do is, we have directed the ECI to form guidelines."


The PIL also stated that there were other parties, such as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), that had promised cash to voters ahead of the polls.

As per the PIL, “Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) promised Rs 2,000 to each woman to lure them. Thereafter, the Congress not only promised Rs 2,000 per month and eight gas cylinders per year to every housewife, but also promised a scooty to every college-going girl Rs 20,000 after passing 12th class, Rs 15,000 after passing 10th class, Rs 10,000 after passing 8th class, and Rs 5,000 after passing 5th class.”

The PIL also referred to similar promises made by the Congress in Uttar Pradesh.

"For the UP Assembly elections, the Congress promised a smartphone to every girl studying in Class 12, a scooty to every girl pursuing graduation, free public transport for women, eight free gas cylinders per year to every housewife, free medical treatment up to Rs 10 lakh per family."
As per the PIL filed by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay.

The BJP leader claimed that arbitrary promises of 'irrational freebies' violated the ECI's mandate for free and fair elections. The distribution of private goods/services from public funds, which are not for public purposes, violates Articles 162, 266(3), and 282 of the Constitution, the PIL said.

The Supreme Court has asked both the Centre and the EC to respond within four weeks.

(With inputs from LiveLaw.)

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Topics:  Aam Aadmi Party   BJP    Supreme Court 

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