New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre and Election Commission of India seeking direction to size election symbols and deregister any political party that promises or distributes “irrational freebies” from public funds.
A bench comprising of Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justice AS Bopanna and Hima Kholi agreed to hear the plea, agreeing that it is a serious issue that can influence the electorate.
“It’s a serious issue no doubt. Freebie budget is going beyond the regular budget. Even though it is not a corrupt practice but it creates an uneven playing field,” the bench said while posting the matter for hearing after four weeks.
“There are States which have a debt burden of Rs 3 lakh per person and then freebies are being offered. Election commission framed guidelines, but without any teeth. Every party is doing it, I don’t want to name,” argued petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay’s counsel Vikas Singh.
The PIL claimed that the promise or distribution of irrational freebies from public funds before elections could unduly influence the voters and shake the roots of free and fair elections.
“Direct and 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 Section 171B and Section 171C of the IPC,” the plea stated.