Supreme Court issues notice in plea seeking de-registration of political parties that promise irrational freebies

  • s.n.thyagarajann
  • 12:07 PM, 25 Jan 2022

A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana issued notice today in a plea seeking de-registration of political parties that promise “irrational freebies”. Vikas Singh, Senior Advocate, appearing for the petitioner submitted that the money of the citizens of the country is at stake and that some States which are going to the elections this year have a debt burden of Rs. 3 lakh per person. 
He further submitted that the Election Commission has framed guidelines that do not have teeth.

The bench also consisting of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli asked Singh to take the court through the 2013 judgment in the case titled Subramaniam Prasad Vs State of Tamil Nadu. Singh on reading the judgment submitted that the verdict also notes that there is a need to frame a separate legislation to govern political parties.

The court on hearing his submissions issued notice in the matter and listed it for further consideration after 4 weeks.

The plea filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeks the declaration of distribution of irrational freebies from public fund before election unduly influences the voters, shakes the roots of free-fair election, disturbs level playing field, vitiates the purity of election process and also violates Articles 14, 162, 266(3) and 282 of the Constitution.

The petition filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay through Advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey has sought direction to the Election Commission of India to seize election symbol and deregister political parties, which promise/ distribute irrational freebies from public fund before election and to Centre to enact Law in this regard.The plea states that "Aam Aadmi Party promised Rs. 1000 per month to every wom an aged 18 and above and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) promised Rs. 2000 to each woman to lure them. 

"Thereafter, India’s oldest political party Congress not only promised Rs. 2000 per month and 8 gas cylinders per year to every house wife but also promised a Scooty to every collage 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. 5000 after passing 5th," the plea added.

In addition to this Upadhyay has further stated "Samajwadi Party announced 300-unit free electricity to every family and Rs. 1500 pension per month to every women as well as financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the people who lost their lives in accident while riding a cycle. Notably, the Cycle its election symbol.”

It is argued that the political parties arbitrarily promise irrational freebies for wrongful gain and to lure voters in their favor which is analogous to Bribery and Undue Influence under S.171B and S.171C. 

The plea has sought following directions:

  1. direct and declare that promise of irrational freebies from public fund before election unduly influences voters, disturbs level playing field, shakes roots of free-fair election & vitiates purity of election process;
  2. direct & declare that promise/distribution of private goods/services, which are not for public purposes, from public funds before election, violate Articles 14, 162, 266(3) and 282 of the Constitution;
  3. direct & declare that promise/ distribution of irrational freebies from the public fund before election to lure voters is analogous to the Bribery and Undue Influence under S.171B and S.171C of the IPC;
  4. direct the ECI to insert an additional condition: “political party shall not promise/distribute irrational freebies from the public fund before election” in Paras 6A, 6B and 6C of the Election Symbols Order 1968;                                                                                                                  

Case title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay Vs Union of India