Home National EC is not able to deal with 'freebie' issue in elections NewsPipa

EC is not able to deal with ‘freebie’ issue in elections NewsPipa

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With a fresh round of assembly elections around the corner, including in Gujarat, the issue of freebies has taken center-stage in political discourse. The matter is now before the Supreme Court, which has favored a preliminary hearing of a PIL on the matter by a larger three-member bench. The Court’s approach shows how much weight it attaches to underlying considerations.

The PIL filed by BJP-affiliated lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeks to avoid the financial implications of such destabilizing freebies to political parties making fancy promises during elections. The petition was apparently inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lament that political parties were practicing ‘reverie culture’ to get votes, which he said had ‘very dangerous implications’ for the country.

Modi’s immediate provocation was Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party’s promise that, if in power, it would provide free electricity to farmers in Gujarat while a similar promise worked wonders in Punjab, enabling the party to be once considered an outsider. With a very impressive victory in the assembly elections.

Modi is very aware of the risks of working in his home state, which would be a terrible loss to both his own face and that of his party.

The Supreme Court outlined three main points for detailed examination while considering the petition. These included the scope for judicial intervention in the matter, the enforceability of court orders in the matter, if any, and the possibility of an expert body being constituted by the court to determine whether political parties are playing ball.

Existing guidelines on the issue are known as judgments Subramaniam Balaji caseWhere the court held that DMK’s promise to distribute free color television sets to every household if voted to power in its 2006 assembly election manifesto did not amount to corrupt practices as defined under the Representation of the People Act.

The DMK, which was in opposition at the time of the promise, won the election and formed the government under M Karunanidhi. This prompted a voter to approach the Election Commission and the courts to declare the election null and void.

Although the petitioner lost the case, his petition raised some important issues which had serious implications for the people of the state. He argued that the expenditure incurred from the state exchequer to fulfill election promises was ‘authorised, impermissible and grossly repugnant’ to the Constitution.

He also questioned the government’s ‘eccentric policy of socialist philanthropy’.

The Supreme Court will certainly examine the propriety and feasibility of an expert body under it to deal with the free issue. But it remains to be seen whether such an agency would have a limited mandate to look into the specific complaints mentioned in the present case or whether it would have any permanence.

It is perhaps a fitting case for the Supreme Court to recommend the formation of ‘Competition Commission for Elections’ as a constitutional body similar to the Election Commission to ensure that political parties stick to acceptable practices in making promises. Enticing voters. Such an organization could also ensure that ruling parties do not abuse their position to prolong their rule by using tax-payers’ money to launch irresponsible freebies to keep voters happy, which will have dire consequences for the people in the long run.

This is an issue that will attract increasing attention in the days ahead, especially as technology becomes an enabler and people have better ways to monitor how their governments are doing.

It is clear that the Election Commission is not in a position to look into these matters nor is it inclined to consider such instances whenever it comes to its notice. Several issues are important to ensure free and fair elections, which are neglected by the Election Commission.

So there will be no dichotomy between the Competition Commission and the Election Commission, the latter being more concerned with the organizational conduct of elections, which itself is a difficult task.

On the other hand, the Competition Commission can deal with ethical issues as well as issues of financial prudence and works within the parameters of competition to ensure a level playing field for all players, whether in power or not. .

(IPA Service)

Opinions are personal

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