PIL urges SC to declare poll-eve freebies unconstitutional : The Tribune India

PIL urges SC to declare poll-eve freebies unconstitutional

Punjab needs Rs 12,000 crore per month to fulfill political promises if AAP comes in power; Rs 25,000 crore per month if SAD comes in power; and Rs 30,000 crore if Congress comes to power, says PIL

PIL urges SC to declare poll-eve freebies unconstitutional

Photo for representation. — iStock



Tribune News Service

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, January 22

As political parties attempt to woo the electorate by populist promises in the ensuing assembly polls in five states, including Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, a PIL in the Supreme Court on Saturday demanded that irrational freebies using public funds be declared unconstitutional.

In his PIL filed through advocate AK Dubey, petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay – a Delhi BJP leader and advocate – contended that “promise of irrational freebies from public funds before elections unduly influences voters, disturbs level-playing field, shakes the roots of a free and fair election, and vitiates purity of election process”.

Holding that freebies promised in poll manifestos vitiated the electoral process, the top court had on July 5, 2013 asked the Election Commission to frame guidelines to check it in consultation of political parties.

Such promises by the political parties violated Articles 14, 162, 266(3) and 282 of the Constitution and amounted to bribery and undue influence under Section 171B and Section 171C of the IPC , he submitted.

“The injury to the citizens is extremely large because Punjab needs Rs 12,000 crore per month to fulfil the political promises if AAP comes to power, Rs 25,000 crore per month if SAD comes to power and Rs 30,000 crore (per month) if Congress comes in power, though GST collection is Rs 1400 crore only,” Upadhyay submitted.

“In fact, after debt repayment, the Punjab government is not able to pay even salaries-pensions, then how will it provide freebies? The bitter truth is that Punjab’s debt is increasing every subsequent year. The state’s outstanding debt has increased to Rs 77,000 crore, with Rs 30,000 crore accumulating in the present financial year itself,” the PIL pointed out.

“Political parties are prioritising their self-interest over national interest and the public fund, which should have been properly utilized to secure fundamental rights of citizens, is being used to lure voters,” Upadhyay said, urging the top court to direct the Election Commission to seize election symbols and deregister political parties that promised to distribute irrational freebies to voters from public funds.

“Unless some mechanism is put in place, political parties would try to buy out the voters by hook or crook as their aim is only to ascend to power,” he submitted.

#assemblyelections #PollFreebies #SupremeCourt

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