New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Thursday asked the Election Commission (EC) to respond on steps taken to comply with the Supreme Court’s directions on poll freebies.
The dispute before the high court is on a public interest litigation alleging non-compliance by the poll panel of the Supreme Court directions to frame guidelines against promising freebies in election manifestos.
A bench comprising Delhi high court Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the EC to file its response within eight weeks.
“You’ll have to show to this court that (your) guidelines on the model code of conduct are in consonance with the Supreme Court directions. File your response. We’ll consider," Rohini said.
The writ petition, filed by 56-year-old Delhi resident Ashok Sharma, alleged that a 2014 notification by the EC on guidelines on election manifestos was an eyewash and that the Commission was not discharging its duties.
The petition relied on a July 2013 verdict of the Supreme Court—S. Subramaniam Balaji versus The Government of Tamil Nadu—where the EC was directed to frame guidelines on election manifestos.
“Although, the law is obvious that the promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of Representation of People’s (RP) Act, the reality cannot be ruled out that distribution of freebies of any kind, undoubtedly, influences all people. It shakes the root of free and fair elections to a large degree," the two-judge bench of the apex court had said in the verdict.
The petition asked the high court to quash the EC notification and ensure compliance with the Supreme Court directions.