Delhi HC seeks response of Centre, Election Commission on plea claiming discrimination towards Independent poll candidates

HC sought response on a plea seeking to strike to a provision of law distinguishing between political party candidates and Independents with regard to campaign expenses.

Published: 23rd July 2018 07:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 23rd July 2018 11:08 PM   |  A+A-

Delhi High Court (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) on a plea seeking a direction to strike down a provision of law that allegedly distinguished between a poll candidate of a political party and an Independent with regard to expenses allowed to be incurred during campaigning.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar issued notice to the Centre and the poll panel on the petition and listed the matter for further hearing on November 14.

Advocate Amit Sahni, who had filed the petition, claimed that according to section 77 (account of election expenses and maximum thereof) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, there was no limit on the campaign expenditure for the candidates of political parties, while there was no such benefit for an Independent nominee.

The plea sought a direction to declare as "ultra vires" (beyond one's legal powers or authority) the said section, which provided that the expenditure incurred by leaders of political parties, while campaigning for a candidate, should not be considered as the expenditure of such a nominee.

The petition alleged that the provision was "arbitrary" as it distinguished between a person contesting elections on the symbol of a political party and an Independent, thus, denying the latter a level-playing field.

"The Election Commission of India cannot pass any order setting aside the infirmity created by section 77 of the RP Act, 1951, as the Act itself created the said inequality by giving an edge to political parties over Independent candidates," it said.

The petition added that the object of the RP Act was to curb the illegal practice of spending money during polls and not to give an advantage to political parties over those not affiliated to any outfit.

It claimed that the political parties spent huge amounts of money on organising rallies and advertisements and did not calculate such expenses in a candidate's campaign expenditure.

"It is an open secret that these political parties' and their candidates' expenses are more and much beyond the ceiling limit for expenditure (prescribed in the Act) under the garb of the said section.

The Independent candidates are not provided a level-playing field in elections," the petition said.

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