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Can't Make Political Parties Liable For Failure To Fulfil Promises Made In Election Manifesto: Allahabad High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
17 March 2022 2:58 PM GMT
Cant Make Political Parties Liable For Failure To Fulfil Promises Made In Election Manifesto: Allahabad High Court
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The Allahabad High Court has observed that there is no penal provision under any statute to bring the political parties within the clutches of enforcement authorities, in case, they fail to fulfill their promises as made in the election manifesto.The Bench of Justice Dinesh Pathak further clarified that a political party as a whole can't be made liable under the Representation of Peoples...

The Allahabad High Court has observed that there is no penal provision under any statute to bring the political parties within the clutches of enforcement authorities, in case, they fail to fulfill their promises as made in the election manifesto.

The Bench of Justice Dinesh Pathak further clarified that a political party as a whole can't be made liable under the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 for adopting corrupt practices of the election.

The case in brief

Essentially, one Khurshidurehman S. Rehman moved an application under Section 156 (3) CrPC with an allegation that Bhartiya Janta Party headed by the then Party President Amit Shah had wooed the voters with several promises but it had failed to fulfill the promises as made in the Election Manifesto-2014.

It was further alleged that Shah had committed crimes of fraud, cheating, criminal breach of trust, dishonesty, defamation, deceiving, and allurement. However, the aforesaid application was rejected by the trial court (Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Aligarh) in October 2020.

Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the order passed by the trial court, the applicant (petitioner herein) preferred a revision plea, which was was dismissed affirming the order passed by the trial court.

Challenging the same, the petitioner moved to the HC submitting that the courts below had illegally rejected an application under Section 156 (3) CrPC and that nonfulfillment of promises as made in the Election Manifesto 2014 makes out a clear cut criminal case against Shah, who is liable to be summoned and tried under different sections of IPC.

On the other hand, senior counsel Manish Goyal (Additional Advocate General) assisted by Advocate A. K. Sand contended that on the face of an application, no cognizable offence is made out against Shah to be tried by the court below.

It was further contended that non-fulfilling the conditions as averred in the election manifesto does not come within the ambit of any law, and therefore, it cannot be enforced under any legislation. 

Court's observations 

At the outset, the Court observed that the question in hand was - as to whether non-fulfillment of any promise as made in the Election Manifesto-2014 amounts to commission of the cognizable offence in the eye of law so as to make it indispensable for a magistrate to forward the complaint to the police for investigation under Section 156 (3) CrPC.

In an attempt to answer the query posed by the Court itself, the Court observed that in view of Apex Court's ruling in the case of Subramaniam Balaji Vs. The Government of Tamil Nadu and others, (2013) 9 SCC 659, wherein it was held that promises made in the manifesto cannot be treated to be corrupt practice as is denoted under Section 123 in The Representation of the People Act, 1951.

"No penal provision has been provided considering the non-fulfillment of the promises as made in the election manifesto as a crime. Though under The Representation of the People Act, 1951, there is a provision for registering the political parties but there is no specific provision for the cancellation of their registration on any ground including the alleged false promise as made in the election manifesto," the Court further added.

In view of this observation, the Court opined that the election manifesto promulgated by any political party is a statement of their policy, view, promises, and vow during the election, which is not the binding force and the same cannot be implemented through the courts of law.

In view of this, the Court concluded that the petitioner had failed to substantiate his submissions in assailing the orders impugned, as to how cognizable offence is made out in the present matter for the purposes of issuing a direction for investigation as enunciated under Section 156 (3) CrPC. 

"Non-occurrence of any cognizable offence is also one of the paramount condition which averted the courts below from issuing a direction for investigation in exercise of powers under Sections 156 (3) CrPC," observed the Court as it as it found no justifiable ground to exercise of its supervisory jurisdiction under Article 227 of the Constitution of Indian to interfere in the impugned orders.

The present writ petition, being devoid of merits and misconceived, was dismissed with no order as to the costs.

Case title - Khurshidurehman S. Rehman v. State of U P and another
Case Citation:2022 LiveLaw (All) 126

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