NEW DELHI: Announcements of freebies by the government ahead of the election process came under the scanner of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, which sought a response from the Centre and the Election Commission on a petition seeking ban on direct cash transfer schemes.
The court issued a notice to Centre and five states — Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Telangana, Odisha and Jharkhand — on the petition filed by Pentapati Pulla Rao, who contested the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Elluru in Andhra as a candidate of the Pawan Kalyan-led Janasena Party but lost.
The plea cited the Centre’s PM Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme and other programmes announced by some state governments which, it claimed, helped the parties in power at the Centre and the states in the elections.
The petitioner also contended that direct cash transfer schemes and the announcement of freebies ahead of the polls amounted to electoral malpractice and sought a direction to the EC to fix a minimum time, preferably six months, before the announcement of election schedule for political parties in power to implement schemes which may impact free and fair elections. Among the schemes he cited were the Centre’s PM Kisan Samman Nidhi and the Pasupu Kumkuma in Andhra.
Notice to Centre, EC on EVM plea
The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted two weeks’ time to the Election Commission and the Centre on a PIL filed by advocate Sunil Ahya who questioned the authenticity of the source codes of EVM, VVPAT & EVM tracking software which may change poll results. Ahya had challenged the legal provision mandating six months’ jail if a complaint against the EVMs turns out to be false. The plea sought decriminalisation of the provision.