SC Issues Notices for Estimation and Source of Funds for Election-Time Promises
Following several debates about ‘freebies’, the Election Commission proposed to compel political parties to enlist the viability of promised projects along with their manifestos.
NEW DELHI: Hearing a petition seeking the declaration of funds and its sources towards fulfilling promises made by political parties in their election manifesto, a bench of the Supreme Court sent out several notices on November 7. The petition also mentions that every election manifesto must be signed and the head of the party should be held accountable for the things mentioned in the document.
Following several debates about 'freebies', the Election Commission proposed to compel political parties to enlist the viability of promised projects along with their manifestos.
Advocate Vijay Sardana representing the petitioners said, "When you are making an announcement, whether it is positive, freebies or otherwise, that's not an issue. The issue is, as a political party seeking governance of the country must have a basic understanding of whether they have the resources to make promises. This will force political parties to look into the financial conditions, and requirements of the state instead of rampant announcements." "Declaration that promises of irrational and exaggerated promises and gifts from public funds before election, very often impossible to implement without hurting the finances and welfare of the state and the country, unduly influences voters, disturbs fair discussion on development agenda, priorities for the of the society and level playing field, shakes roots of the free-fair election, vitiates purity and informed decision making by voters in the election process." he added
The petition mentions that disclosure of financial information will help the citizens make a more informed choice regarding their representatives. It also mentioned that promises of gifts towards political gains are the same as Bribery and Undue Influence which are punishable under S.171B and S.171C of the Indian Penal Code. Citing reports of the Reserve Bank of India, it adds that most of the states are unable to sustain existing liabilities, hence they cannot meet further expectations without taking loans or raising taxes.
A bench of SC comprising Justice Abdul Nazeer and Justice V Ramasubramanian is hearing the matter. They tagged it with a similar matter and fixed the next date of hearing to be January 2. The bench maintained that something must be done immediately in order to resolve this issue
"I don't think people now vote based on what you promise. People vote on different considerations, not certainly only on promises", the Bench said while declaring the next hearing date in this matter.