Supreme Court Takes a Firm Stand on Political Parties Offering Free ‘Gifts’ During Elections

The Supreme Court of India has agreed to hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the practice of political parties promising free ‘gifts’ during election campaigns. The hearing, scheduled to commence before the Lok Sabha elections starting on April 19, signifies the judiciary’s concern over this growing trend.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice J.B. Pardiwala, and Justice Manoj Mishra, expressed the necessity of addressing this issue promptly. “It is imperative, and we will continue the hearing on this matter tomorrow,” stated the bench on Wednesday.

Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, representing petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay, emphasized the urgency of the matter, urging the court to hear the PIL before the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The Supreme Court took cognizance of the request, marking a significant move towards scrutinizing the electoral promises made by political entities.

The PIL filed challenges the constitutionality of such promises, arguing that they violate Articles 14, 162, 266(3), and 282 of the Indian Constitution. The petitioner has called for stringent actions against political parties making irrational promises of free ‘gifts’ at the expense of public funds. The plea seeks directives for the Election Commission to confiscate the election symbols and cancel the registration of parties guilty of such practices.

The petitioner contends that political parties, in a bid to gain undue advantage, irrationally promise ‘gifts’ to sway voters, equating this practice to bribery and undue influence. The plea further asserts that populist measures aimed at garnering political gains from voters should be strictly prohibited as they contravene the Constitution and undermine the sanctity of the electoral process.

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