A petition was filed in the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the registration and election symbols of political parties promising free services and distribution of goods to voters during elections. The Election Commission clarified its stand in this regard and said that the Election Commission does not have the power to impose restrictions or take any action on such policy decisions which are its own. The court can issue guidelines in this matter.

It is beyond our right to take action against political parties: Election Commission

Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay had filed a PIL seeking cancellation of registration of political parties promising to provide free services and goods to voters before or after elections. “It is beyond our power to take disciplinary or preventive action against political parties without the provision of law,” the Election Commission said. Making such promises is a policy decision of political parties. It is up to the voters of that state to decide whether such policies can be economically sustainable and adversely affect the financial position of the states.

There is no consensus among the political parties on this issue.

In this regard, the 2013 S. Subramaniam referred to Balaji’s Supreme Court decision in which the court ruled that such promises cannot be treated as corrupt practices under section 1232 of the EA Act. The Election Commission should meet with all the political parties and reach a consensus on this issue. The Election Commission said that several attempts were made on the issue but political parties were unanimous in stopping the practice.