Plea in SC says freebies by political parties similar to bribery

New Delhi: A PIL has been moved in the Supreme Court claiming that the promise or distribution of irrational freebies using public funds before polls shakes the roots of free and fair elections, and vitiates the purity of the entire election process.

The plea filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay sought a direction from the top court to declare that the promise of irrational freebies, which are not for public purposes, from public funds before elections violates Articles 14, 162, 266(3) and 282 of the Constitution.

The plea contended that political parties’ promises to lure voters in their favour are analogous to bribery and undue influences.

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The plea cited that in poll-bound Punjab, the Aam Aadmi Party promised Rs 1,000 per month to every woman aged 18 and above, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) promised Rs 2,000 to each woman, while the Congress also promised Rs 2,000 per month and eight gas cylinders per year to every housewife.

The plea submitted that the fulcrum of democracy is the electoral process and if the integrity of the electoral process is compromised, the notion of representation becomes vacuous.

“Distribution of money and promise of freebies has reached alarming levels with elections countermanded several times. In this scenario, the danger to the system of parliamentary democracy and Indian Republic cannot be gainsaid,” added the plea.

The plea pointed out that 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 if the Congress comes to power.

The petitioner added that the GST collection of the state is only Rs 1,400 crore.

The plea claimed, “In fact, after debt repayment, 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.”

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