Congress’ slogan for the 2019 elections is ‘Ab NYAY Hoga’ (Now, justice will be served). The slogan is based on a scheme called NYAY that has been mentioned by Congress in its 2019 election manifesto. The scheme promises to transfer Rs. 72,000 as minimum income to poor families who earn less than that. Now, the scheme itself has run into trouble as Allahabad Court has issued a notice to Congress and the Election Commission of India (ECI) asking whether the scheme itself can be considered an electoral bribe to the voters.
The Allahabad High Court has issued a notice to ECI and the Congress party, pursuant to a petition filed, asking whether Congress’ NYAY scheme is a violation of the Representation of People Act, 1951 and Model Code of Conduct.
The Petition says that according to Section 100 of the People’s Representation Act, the election is liable to be held void if the result has been materially affected by corrupt practices.
The petition, according to Bar and Bench says:
“What constitutes “Corrupt Practice”, has been enumerated in Section 123 of the RP Act. It includes “bribery”, that is to say, any gift, offer or promise of a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of candidate, his Election Agent or any gratification to any person whomsoever with the object, directly or indirectly, inducing an Elector to vote or as a reward to elector having voted”.
The Petition appeals to the Court to order the removal of the NYAY scheme from Congress’ list of poll promises. The petition also asks the Court to direct Congress candidates to not take advantage of the scheme in their election campaigning.
The Allahabad Court, after issuing the notice, has given the Election Commission 10 days to respond. The next date of hearing is set to be May 13th.
Interestingly, the Court also observed that the petitioner had taken up the issue with the Election Commission by submitting a representation but the Election Commission did not take cognizance of it.
There have been several allegations of bias against the Election Commission in the ongoing 2019 elections. Recently, former civil servants had written a letter to the President of India raising concern over the selectivity of Election Commission and had alleged that a motivated group of people were influencing the EC to take anti-Modi decisions. Recently, the EC had barred the release of PM Modi’s biopic starring Vivek Oberoi and had also ordered that even the episodes already aired of EROS series based on PM Modi should be taken off the air.