The election of all six MPs of Punjab’s ruling alliance, elected in the recent Lok Sabha polls, has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana high court. Their disqualification has been sought on the grounds of issuing election advertisements on television channels seeking votes in the name of religion and not declaring the exact amount spent on advertisements.
These MPs are Prem Singh Chandumajra (Anandpur Sahib), Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Bathinda), Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (Khadoor Sahib) and Sher Singh Ghubaya (Ferozepur) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Vinod Khanna (Gurdaspur) and Vijay Sampla (Hoshiarpur) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It has been alleged that these MPs committed corrupt practices as defined under Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
The six petitioners include Harminder Singh Gill, who contested the Lok Sabha elections on the Congress ticket against Brahmpura from Khadoor Sahib. The others are voters of the parliamentary constituency concerned.
The high court has kept July 22 as the date for scrutiny of these petitions.
The petitioners alleged that these Lok Sabha candidates released the advertisements by using religious symbols, Sikh religious places and the national flag to appeal to Sikh voters of respective parliamentary constituencies to vote for them in the name of religion. The petitioners alleged that these MPs exploited religious sentiments of Sikh voters and the community to fetch votes.
It has been submitted that pictures of Sri Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), Amritsar; Virasat-e-Khalsa at Anandpur Sahib, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur memorial at Chappar Chiri (Mohali); Vadda Ghalughara memorial at Malerkotla; and paintings of Sikh history were shown in these advertisements.
It has also been alleged that such advertisements were aired on some TV channels repeatedly during the election campaign, right from the filing of nomination papers on April 7 till the end of the campaign on April 28.
Ad expenses ‘concealed’
The petitioners have submitted that the prescribed limit of incurring expenditure on the election in a parliamentary constituency by each contesting candidate is Rs 70 lakh. However, these elected MPs spent much more in their election. Therefore, their election is liable to be set aside on this ground also, the petitioners claimed.
They have alleged that a number of advertisements were issued in the print media and the total expenditure on these advertisements has to be added in the election expenditure of all SAD and BJP candidates and should be divided equally as in the said advertisements, the word ‘advertisement' was not mentioned and it was also not mentioned by whom the same were issued and published. It was submitted that the total expenditure incurred on these advertisements comes to Rs 1.4 crore and the share of each MP (1/13th) comes to Rs 8 lakh. The petitioners have alleged that thus the amount of Rs 8 lakh each has not been shown by the six MPs in the election expenses account lodged before the respective district election officers.