Political Parties Promising ‘Freebies’ Before Elections A ‘Serious Issue’

Political Parties Promising ‘Freebies’ Before Elections A ‘Serious Issue’

The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Center and the Election Commission on a petition related to the announcement of free gifts by political parties before the elections.

Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) has issued notice on a petition seeking directions to the Election Commission (EC).

The petition pertains to the issuance of a direction by the Election Commission to restrain political parties from promising or distributing undue free services/goods out of public money before elections.

Concerns about Freebies

  • Such announcements influence voters unfairly.
  • This trend hinders equal opportunity for all candidates to participate in elections. At the same time, it also corrupts the sanctity of the election process.
  • It undermines the principle of free and fair elections.
  • This places a huge financial burden on the states.
  • The Supreme Court, in the 2013 Subramaniam Balaji v State of Tamil Nadu case, had clarified that the promises made in the election manifesto “cannot be construed as corrupt practice”.
  • When the ruling party, by passing an Appropriation Act in the State Legislative Assembly, utilizes public money for the said purpose, such free distribution cannot be stopped.
  • Distribution of free gifts affects all people. In the present petition, the Election Commission has been demanded to prepare guidelines. At the same time, it has also stressed on the need for a separate law to be passed by the legislature in this regard to ‘control political parties’.
  • The Election Commission has already implemented the directions in the Balaji case. This has been done by incorporating the guidelines governing election manifestos in Part VII of the Model Code of Conduct. Compliance with this Code is binding.

Source – The Hindu

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