Promising CTV was corrupt practice, says petitioner in SC
8 Apr, 2008, 0504 hrs IST,Sanjay K Singh, TNN
NEW DELHI: A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court, which claimed that the distribution of largesse by political parities on poll eve, to mop up votes, under the plea of improving lifestyle of the downtrodden comes under corrupt practices defined under the provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act.
A Chennai based advocate approached the apex court challenging a Madras high court ruling that held election manifesto of PMK promising distribution of free colour TV sets to eligible people cannot be called corrupt practice as it was a tool to promote welfare of people and secure a social order.
A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice R V Raveendran granted permission to the petitioner to circulate the letter to the Centre, Election Commission, Tamil Nadu government and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi.
The court adjourned the matter for two weeks. Advocate Abhay Kumar appearing for the petitioner said, such poll largesse by the political parties in power was a sheer waste of public money. It was nothing but a tool to grab the votes, said Mr Kumar.
“Whether it was permissible to make a poll promise of a free lifestyle accessory/gift to the general masses, by a political alliance brought in through a political party’s manifesto and whether such a practice would not amount to a corrupt practice particularly when the same promise by an independent candidate would be seen as a bribe,” asked petitioner S Subramaniam Balaji.
The petitioner sought adjudication of the apex court on the issue of “whether a political party can promise free distribution of household appliances/luxury goods to the general masses couched in irrational/colourable premises such as entertainment and general knowledge/saving of labour /improving the standard of life of women/common man?”
DMK chief M Karunanidhi, while releasing the election manifesto for assembly elections 2006, had announced a scheme for free distribution of CTVs if the party/its alliance was voted to power. Such largesse was the main electoral plank of Democratic Progressive Alliance in Tamil Nadu. It was fulfilled through a separate budgetary allocation.
The petitioner alleged that the victory of the DPA was mainly due to such largesse, which costs the state exchequer a whopping Rs 2,400 crore. It has challenged high court order of June 25, 2007, which had held that TVs have become tools to promote welfare of the people and to secure social order.