The Supreme Court today issued notices to the Central government and the Election Commission of India (ECI) seeking their response on a petition requesting a ban on the announcement of cash transfer schemes by governments before or during the elections. The bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose also issued notices to five state governments after hearing the petition.
The petitioner, Dr. Pentapati Pulla Rao who contested from Elluru Lok Sabha seat in Andhra Pradesh on Janasena party ticket, contended that such schemes provide an unfair advantage to the ruling party. Schemes like Central government’s PM Kisan Samman Nidhi Scheme among others announced by governments of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, etc. were referred to in the petition.
The petition also sought direction to the ECI to fix a minimum time before the election schedule, preferably six months, for political parties in power to implement such schemes. According to the petitioner, such cash transfer schemes announced ahead of polls circumvent the Model Code Conduct and fall under the definition of corrupt practices under the Representation of People Act, 1951.
The petition referred to Supreme Court decision in S Subramanium Balaji v State of Tamil Nadu wherein the court had directed the EC to frame guidelines to regulate freebies by governments close to elections to ensure a level playing field. It also referred to the ECI v Rajaji Mathew Thomas case wherein the Supreme Court observed that “no action should be taken by a party in power in close proximity to the date on which the elections are announced so as to derive any benefit therefrom during the elections or to disturb the level playing field for all political parties involved in the electoral process.”
We had reported earlier today that Election Commission said it will consider the state assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir later this year. The schedule for the same will be announced after the Amarnath Yatra is concluded.