SC to Hear PIL Seeking to Regulate Poll Manifestos Tomorrow

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to make political parties accountable for promises made in their manifesto. The PIL, filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, seeks apex courtโ€™s directions to the Centre and the Election Commission to take steps to regulate poll manifesto.

It also seeks direction to the Election Commission to seize the poll symbol and deregister/derecognise the political parties that fail to fulfil the promises made in their manifesto.

The plea said that the Centre and the ECI have not taken steps to regulate the manifestos of political parties.

Citing promises of Janlokpal Bill-Swaraj Bill by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in their poll manifestos for Delhi, the plea said that the AAP did nothing to effectuate them.

โ€œThis is happening in all states because neither the Centre has enacted a law to regulate the functioning of political parties and their election manifesto nor has the ECI made any guideline,โ€ it said.

Referring to the promise of Uniform Civil Code by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the petition said, โ€œIt (BJP) currently has absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, even if it is short of numbers in the Rajya Sabha. In such a situation, what would be the legal hassle if someone takes the BJP to court seeking fulfilment of the promise? Let it, at least, introduce a UCC Bill and leave it to the machinations of parliamentary democracy, to be settled in due course.โ€

โ€œAn election manifesto is a window for voters to see through a political partyโ€™s governance agenda to make an informed decision. Voting is a transactional act. Once a vote is cast on the basis of the transactional value the voter sees in the party, a legal contract arguably comes into existence if the said party forms the ruling government,โ€ the PIL said.

โ€œDirect and declare that the Election Manifesto is a vision document, a published declaration of the intentions, motives and views of the political party and used to achieve the particular goals, if political party gets elected. Hence, it is statutory and legally enforceable,โ€ the plea said.

(with PTI inputs)

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