New Delhi, November 8: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the government on a petition seeking expeditious action and conduct of investigation in the use of excess money in election process by candidate and parties.
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi issued notices to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Enforcement Directorate (ED), the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and several States on a petition filed by Kaka Ramakrishna, the secretary of the Communist Party of India’s Andhra Pradesh unit.
The petition, filed through advocates T. Sudhakar and Sravan Kumar, said that the proposal made since 1992 to the government to make bribery in elections a cognizable offence is pending till date and that the successive governments have not moved a muscle in this regard. The petition wants to make bribery a cognizable offence in time for the upcoming Assembly elections in Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajastan and Mizoram.
The petition asked the court to direct the ED, CBDT and appropriate State authorities to take “stringent action on seized money, liquor, narcotics and drugs in all elections from 2014 till date and fasten liability”.
The notice issued by the Supreme Court on November 2 extends to the State of Tamil Nadu. The petition has sought the court to direct the ED, CBDT and the State of Tamil Nadu to “take action on various criminal cases registered during Radhakrishna Nagar byelections and submit a report to the Supreme Court”.
The petition wants the “total net assets and tax revenue/income/expenditure, which is available to be appropriated by legislators, to be disclosed on a per vote basis so as to sensitise voters about the financial might of each vote”.
“For instance, total expenditure in the 2018-19 Union budget is ?2,920,484 crore. Total number of eligible voters in 2014 was 81.45 crore. In effect, every vote, whether exercised or not, authorised expenditure of ?35,856 in just one year. If only polled votes of 66.38% are considered, it shoots to ?54,000 per vote. For next election in 2019, for following five years, every vote could be authorising expenditure of about ?2 lakh easily,” the petition contended.
The petition blamed the ECI and other authorities for not disqualifying a single candidate between 2014 and 2018 for spending excess to the limit fixed by the Election Commission.
(Courtesy: The Hindu)