Court: promise to develop a locality or 100 % jobs for all young graduate not corrupt practice

The Election Commission will convene a meeting of representatives of recognised national and State-level political parties to discuss the impact of the July 5 verdict of the Supreme Court, which stated that freebies offered by parties in manifestos would not come under “corrupt practices” and “electoral offences” under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.

The meeting date would be finalised soon as the Commission has forwarded copies of the apex court verdict to the parties concerned “for their information and firming up of views.”

A release from the Commission said: “The EC has taken note of the SC directions that it should frame guidelines regarding the election manifestoes of political parties. It has decided to seek the views of political parties in the matter before taking up further action”.

The Commission would shortly circulate a background paper on the matter among political parties. In preparation for this, it had started making efforts to compile available views and practices in this subject both nationally and internationally.

‘Luxury can be necessity’

Writing the judgment, a Supreme Court Bench, headed by Justice P. Sathasivam, had said: “What was once considered to be a luxury can become a necessity. The concept of livelihood is no longer confined to bare physical survival in terms of food, clothing and shelter but must also now necessarily include some provision for medicine, transport, education, recreation, etc. How to implement the Directive Principles of State Policy is a matter within the domain of the government, hence, the State distributing largesse in the form of colour TVs, laptops, mixer-grinders, etc, to eligible and deserving persons is directly related to the Directive Principles.”

The Bench, upholding the offer of grinders, mixies, laptops etc made by the Jayalalithaa regime in Tamil Nadu, said: “Firstly, if we are to declare that every kind of promise made in the election manifesto is a corrupt practice, this will be flawed.” For, all promises made were not necessarily freebies per se — for instance, the promise to develop a particular locality or cent per cent employment for all young graduates.

“Therefore, it will be misleading to construe that all promises in the manifesto would amount to a corrupt practice. Likewise, it is not within the domain of this court to legislate on what kind of promises can or cannot be made in the manifesto,” the court said in its landmark judgment.

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