Author – Neha Agarwal (Banasthali Vidyapith, Rajasthan)
Supreme Court in case of Pentapati Pulla Rao v. Election Commission of India and ors. has agreed to examine the validity of a string of Direct cash transfer schemes that were announced and implemented by ruling parties at the Centre and States before model code of conduct kicked in prior to the Lok Sabha elections.
In the present case, Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by petitioner for seeking a direction from the apex court to declare the implementation of Direct Cash Transfer (DBT) schemes before and during the election process a corrupt electoral practice and therefore illegal, unconstitutional and contrary to Article 14, 21, 112, 202 of the Constitution.
The DBT schemes included —‘PM Kishan Samman Nidhi’ Scheme proposing transfer of Rs 6,000 to 12.50 crore farmers, TDP’s ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’ proposing cash benefit to women, ‘Annadata Sukhibhava’ proposing Rs 5,000 to 50 lakh farmers, ‘NTR Bharosa’ old-age pension scheme and ‘Mukhya Mantri Yuva Nestam’ for unemployed youth, TRS’s ‘Rythu Bandhu’ promising Rs 8,000 per acre to farmers, and BJD’s ‘Krushak Assistance for Livelihood and Income Augmentation’ (KALIA) scheme promising two instalments of Rs 10,000 each to 25 lakh farmers.
Santosh Paul on behalf of the petitioner submitted that implementation of the direct cash transfer schemes announced by BJP, TDP, TRS, BJD, Congress and TMC for farmers, women and others amounted to using public funds to influence voters and create disadvantage for the opposition.
After a brief hearing, the constitutional bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Aniruddha Bose, issued notices to five state government and agreed to examine three issues — declaring these direct cash transfer schemes as a violation of right to equality of candidates in an election, direct election commission to prepare comprehensive guidelines on freebies, direct cash transfer schemes etc, and a minimum six-month moratorium for announcement of such schemes prior to elections.
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