Can’t penalise parties for unkept election promises: Allahabad high court

Updated on Mar 18, 2022 08:36 AM IST

The petition, filed by Khurshidurehman S Rehman, sought registration of a criminal case against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly failing to fulfil the promises made by then party president Amit Shah during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The petition, filed by Khurshidurehman S Rehman, sought registration of a criminal case against the BJP for allegedly failing to fulfil the promises made by then party president Amit Shah during the 2014 LS elections(File photo. Representative image)
The petition, filed by Khurshidurehman S Rehman, sought registration of a criminal case against the BJP for allegedly failing to fulfil the promises made by then party president Amit Shah during the 2014 LS elections(File photo. Representative image)
ByJItendra Sarin, Prayagraj

The Allahabad high court has observed that political parties cannot be penalised in case they fail to fulfil promises made in the election manifesto.

Dismissing a petition on March 2 challenging an order passed by two lower courts in the matter, a single-judge bench of justice Dinesh Pathak observed: “The election manifesto promulgated by any political party is a statement of their policy, view, promises and vow during the election, which is not the binding force and the same cannot be implemented through the courts of law. Even there is no penal provision under any statute to bring the political parties within the clutches of enforcement authorities,in case they fail to fulfil their promises as made in the election manifesto.”

The judgment was released on Thursday.

The petition, filed by Khurshidurehman S Rehman, sought registration of a criminal case against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for allegedly failing to fulfil the promises made by then party president Amit Shah during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

“Therefore, he (Shah) has committed crime of fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust, dishonesty, defamation, deceiving and falls allurement”, the petitioner said.

An Aligarh court had rejected the petition, filed under Section 156 (3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (if a police authority does not perform their duty then a magistrate may order an investigation by a police officer) in October 2020.

In its argument, the counsel for the petitioner said that both the lower courts illegally rejected the application “without applying their mind and without properly appreciating the allegations”. Non-fulfilment of promises as made in the 2014 election manifesto makes out a clear cut criminal case against the person in question, who is liable to be summoned and tried under different sections of the Indian Penal Code.

The HC, however, clarified that a political party as a whole can’t be made liable under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 for adopting corrupt practices of the election. It said: “After perusal of the judgment passed by the courts below, it cannot be said that they have decided the matter in a cursory manner without applying their judicial mind. Non-occurrence of any cognizable offence is also one of the paramount condition which averted the courts below from issuing a direction for investigation in exercise of powers under Sections 156 (3) CrPC.

“Paramount question for consideration in the present petition lies in a narrow compass as to whether non-fulfilment of any promise as made in the Election Manifesto-2014 amounts to commission of cognisable offence in the eye of law. On a pointed query, learned counsel for petitioner has failed to demonstrate any penal provision for betrayal of a party concerned from the promises as made in the Election Manifesto-2014”, the bench observed.

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