Crusader against freebies to act against Election Commissioners

Chennai, May 12 (IANS) The crusader against freebies offered by political parties, S. Subramaniam Balaji, said on Thursday he will file a contempt petition against the three Election Commissioners and the Chief Electoral Officer in Tamil Nadu for contempt of Supreme Court.

“I have lodged complaints against the freebies announced by political parties like the AIADMK, DMK and PMK with the Election Commission. Till now I have not received any reply,” Balaji told IANS.

“On May 11, I had sent a contempt notice to Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi and Election Commissioners A.K. Joti and Om Prakash Rawat besides Rajesh Lakhoni, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Electoral Officer, holding them personally responsible to uphold the rule of law as laid down by the apex court,” Balaji said.

Balaji had filed a case against DMK’s 2006 election promise of free colour television and also against the AIADMK’s 2011 election promise of free mixer-grinder, laptop, fan, cattle and more.

The case was finally decided by the Supreme Court in 2013 after it told the Election Commission to frame a guideline on election manifestoes after consulting recognised political parties and make it a part of the model code of conduct.

“Although, the law is obvious that the promises in the election manifesto cannot be construed as ‘corrupt practice’ under Section 123 of 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,” Balaji quoted the apex court decision as saying in his contempt notice.

“The Election Commission has failed to exercise its authority in respect of the AIADMK which issued its manifesto announcing freebies like cell phones for all ration card holders and 50 percent funding of scooter purchases by women and others after the model code of conduct came into vogue,” Balaji said.

He said the poll panel failed to take appropriate action on the promise of freebies and countermanded the elections which is neither free nor fair but vitiated in favour of those who offered freebies.

None of the parties have mentioned the rationale for the promises made and the ways their government would fund such schemes.

The Election Commission has also said that the manifestoes shall not say anything repugnant to the ideals and principles enshrined in the Indian Constitution.

The manifesto should also be consistent with the letter and spirit of other provisions of the model code of conduct.

–IANS

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