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'Serious issue': SC seeks Centre, EC response on PIL against freebies before polls
'Serious issue': SC seeks Centre, EC response on PIL against freebies before polls

New Delhi, Jan 26 (TIWN) The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on a PIL against the promise or distribution of irrational freebies from public funds before polls as it shakes the roots of a free and fair election, and vitiates the purity of the election process.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana and Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli observed, “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.”  Justice Kohli remarked, “You (petitioner) have been selective in your approach (in naming parties). The CJI noted, “You have named only two in affidavit.”

The PIL filed by BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay cites the Aam Aadmi Party’s promise of Rs 1,000 per month to every woman aged 18, ahead of the Punjab polls. It also states examples like, “Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) promised Rs 2000 to each woman to lure them. Thereafter, Congress not only promised Rs 2000 per month and eight gas cylinders per year to every housewife 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 5,000 after passing 5th.”  Lastly, it mentions, “For UP Assembly elections, 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.” 

Last week, the Supreme Court had said it would consider listing for hearing a plea — also filed by Upadhyay — seeking a direction to the EC to ensure that political parties publish details regarding criminal cases of candidates along with the reason for their selection on their websites.


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