Written By – Aishwarya
A notice was issued to the Election Commission of India by SC on a plea seeking directions to Election Commission of India to seize election symbol and deregister political parties, which promise/distribute freebies using public funds before elections. The petitioner is a BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.
A Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana and 2 other judges heard the case. In it the CJI remarked “It is a serious issue and freebies budget goes beyond regular budget. Even though it is not a corrupt practice but it creates a uneven playing field”.
The Bench also pointed out how the petitioner had selectively named parties and States in the petition. The petitioner only named only two in affidavit, and was selective in his approach.
The plea cited the following examples from the upcoming Punjab Assembly elections:
- Aam Aadmi Party promised ₹1,000 per month to every woman aged 18;
- Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) promised ₹2000 to each woman to lure them.
- Thereafter Congress not only promised ₹2000 per month and 8 gas cylinders per year to every house wife but also promised a Scooty to every collage going girl, ₹20,000 after passing 12th class, ₹15,000 after passing 10th class, ₹10,000 after passing 8th class and ₹5,000 after passing 5th.
Distribution of money and promise of freebies has reached alarming levels, the petitioner contended even when there are States which have debt burden of ₹3 lakh per person and yet freebies were being offered.
The petitioner also prayed for directions to ECI to insert an additional condition in Paras 6A, 6B and 6C of the Election Symbols Order 1968 mandating that “political party shall not promise/distribute irrational freebies from the public fund before election”.