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Promising freebies disturbs democracy, SC tells parties

Last Updated: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 13:39

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that promises made by political parties in their manifestoes to give freebies do not amount to corruption.
The Supreme Court, however, also had a word of caution for the political parties, as it asked the Election Commission to formulate guidelines for parties to regulate contents of their election manifestoes.

The apex court further said that there was a need for a law to regulate the conduct of the political parties, conceding that distribution of freebies influences voters, shakes the foundation of the democracy and hampers the level playing field.
"There is no guideline for regulating the contents of election manifesto. We direct the Election Commission to frame guidelines on it," the bench said.

"We direct election commission to take up the task (of framing guidelines) immediately," it said.

The apex court also said that separate legislation should be made on this issue.

It said freebies promised by political parties disturb the level playing field among players contesting the polls and vitiates the election process.

The bench, however, dismissed the plea challenging J Jayalalithaa government`s decision to implement AIADMK`s poll promise of free household items to voters, saying that under the present law, promises of freebies made in the manifesto do not amount to corrupt practices.

The petition was filed by an advocate S Subramaniam Balaji, challenging the state`s decision to distribute freebies.

According to the petitioner, competitive populism resorted to by political parties was unconstitutional besides being a huge drain on the state exchequer.

The petitioner had contended that freebies offered by the Tamil Nadu government amounted to bribing the voters and ran counter to the constitutional mandate of free and fair elections.

With PTI inputs

First Published: Friday, July 5, 2013 - 12:15

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