On Tuesday, a Supreme Court bench comprised of CJI UU Lalit and Justice Bela M. Trivedi directed that the petition prohibiting freebies during election campaigns be heard by a three-judge panel.
The development follows the filing of a PIL by lawyer and former BJP Delhi Spokesperson Ashwini Upadhyay, who is requesting that the Election Commission of India (ECI) prohibit political parties from promising gifts during election campaigns. The Petitioner contended that political parties make promises during elections without considering the financial implications on the state economy in order to gain votes. As a result, political parties exploit tax payers’ money to stay in power, undermining free and fair elections.
Given the complexities of the issues involved, as well as the request to overturn a judgement delivered by a two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in S. Subramaniam Balaji v. Govt of Tamil Nadu, the Court decided that these petitions be heard by a three Judge Bench.
The Supreme Court was asked in S. Subramaniam Balaji whether preelection promises amounted to corrupt activities under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951. In that judgement, the Court ruled that such pledges do not fall within the scope of corrupt practises as defined by Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and directed the Election Commission of India to develop specific guidelines.