Thursday, February 22, 2024

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre, Election Commission to de-register political parties promising freebies before polls

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission on a petition seeking direction to the Commission to seize the election symbol and de-register the political parties, which promise cash and other irrational freebies from public fund before election.

The plea, filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, also sought a direction to the Central government to enact a law in this regard.

The petitioner referred to a decision of the Samajwadi Party, which is a registered and recognised political party, to field alleged gangster Nahid Hasan from Uttar Pradesh’s Kairana Assembly seat for next month’s elections.

Upadhyay claimed that Hasan filed his nomination, even as the party did not disclose about his criminal antecedents either on its website or through print or social media.

The petition referred to a February 13, 2020 order of the top court, which made it mandatory for political parties to disclose the list of candidates with criminal antecedents along with the reasons for their selection within 48 hours of fielding them or two weeks prior to the date of filing nomination.

Also Read: Supreme Court to hear plea by Spice Jet regarding non-payment of over 24 million USD on January 28

In case of non-compliance of the above order, the EC should have the power to denotify the concerned political party, the petitioner said.

While the 2020 order allows the poll body to file a contempt petition before the top court, it does not provide deregistration of political parties.

“Permitting criminals to become legislator interferes with the purity and integrity of the electoral process; violates the right to choose freely the candidate and therefore, the freedom of expression of the voter under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, amounts to a subversion of democracy, which is part of the basic structure; and, finally, is antithetical to the rule of law which is at the core of Article 14 (right to equality) of the Constitution,”

-the petitioner said.

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