Political freebies to be banned? Key Supreme Court hearing today ahead of Lok Sabha elections | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Political freebies to be banned? Key Supreme Court hearing today ahead of Lok Sabha elections

Mar 21, 2024 09:07 AM IST

The plea said there should be a total ban on populist measures to gain undue political favour from voters as they violate the Constitution.

The Supreme Court on Thursday, March 21, will hear a PIL against the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections, a significant move which comes weeks before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections beginning April 19.

The Supreme Court of India. (PTI File)
The Supreme Court of India. (PTI File)

“This is important. We will keep this on board tomorrow (Thursday),” a bench of Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said on Wednesday after the petitioner's lawyer in the case mentioned the matter for early hearing.

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The plea said there should be a total ban on populist measures to gain undue political favour from voters as they violate the Constitution, and the Election Commission of India should take suitable deterrent measures, news agency ANI reported.

The Supreme Court took note of the submissions of senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appearing for lawyer and PIL petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, that the plea needs to be heard before the Lok Sabha polls.

What does the PIL say?

  • The PIL urged the apex court to declare that the promise of irrational freebies from public funds before elections unduly influences the voters, disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the purity of the poll process.
  • “Petitioner submits that the recent trend of political parties to influence voters by offering freebies with an eye on elections is not only the greatest threat to the survival of democratic values but also injures the spirit of the Constitution,” the PIL said.
  • It added that this unethical practice is just like giving bribes to the electorate at the cost of the exchequer to stay in power and must be avoided to preserve democratic principles and practices.
  • The petition also sought a direction to the poll panel to insert an additional condition in the relevant paragraphs of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968, which deals with conditions for recognition as a state party, that a “political party shall not promise/distribute irrational freebies from the public fund before the election”.
  • The petitioner has urged the Supreme Court to declare that the promise or distribution of private goods or services, which are not for public purposes from public funds, before the elections violates several articles of the Constitution, including Article 14.

Lok Sabha elections from April 19

The seven-phase 18th Lok Sabha elections will begin on April 19 and end on June 1. The counting of votes will be held on June 4.

The nomination process for 102 parliamentary constituencies spread across 21 states and Union territories where polling would be held in the first phase began on Wednesday with the issuance of a notification.

(With inputs from ANI, PTI)

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