Commitments made in election manifestos not corrupt practice: SC

Petitioner alleged that commitments in Congress manifesto for 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls promised financial help to the public

Rahul Gandhi (centre) with K'taka CM and deputy CM at swearing-in ceremony, May 2023
Rahul Gandhi (centre) with K'taka CM and deputy CM at swearing-in ceremony, May 2023


The Supreme Court has said commitments made by political parties in their election manifestos will not amount to "corrupt practice" under election laws.

A bench of justices Surya Kant and K.V. Viswanathan made the observation while dismissing a plea by a voter from the Chamarajpet Assembly segment in Karnataka's capital city Bengaluru, challenging the election of a Congress candidate.

The plea alleged that commitments by the Congress in its election manifesto for the 2023 Karnataka Assembly polls promised direct and indirect financial help to the public, which amounted to corrupt electoral practice.

"The contention of the learned counsel that the commitments by a political party in its manifesto, which eventually lead to direct or indirect financial help to the public at large, will also amount to corrupt practice by a candidate of that party, is too far-fetched and cannot be accepted.

"In any case, in the facts and circumstances of these cases, we need not go into such questions elaborately. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed," the bench said.

The petitioner, Shashanka J. Sreedhara, a voter from Chamrajapet, had filed an election petition against the winning candidate B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan, submitting that the five guarantees made by the Indian National Congress (INC) in its manifesto amounted to corrupt practice.

The Karnataka High Court had held that a party's announcement about the policies it planned to put into place could not be regarded as corrupt behaviour under section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act.

"The five guarantees of the Indian National Congress have to be considered as social welfare policies. Whether they are financially viable or not is altogether a different aspect.

"It is for the other parties to show as to how implementation of the said schemes amounts to bankruptcy of the State Treasury and it can only lead to mal governance of the State. It is possible that they can be termed as wrong policies under the given facts and circumstances of the case, but cannot be termed as corrupt practices," the high court had said.

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