Delhi High Court dismisses PIL against ‘direct cash transfer’ offers made by political parties in election manifestos

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The Delhi High Court today dismissed a Public Interest Litigation plea asking Court to declare the offers made by political parties in their election manifestos for direct cash transfer as unconstitutional.

The bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla noted that the offer of transfer of cash comes under the purview of freebie promises and the Supreme Court has already tabled its decisions regarding the same.

The bench said, “We are not sitting in an appeal against Supreme Court's judgment. In our view, freebies and direct cash transfer promises are the same. What difference does it make if the political party promises the goods/services or transfers the money for it directly?”

Court clarified that if a political party makes such a promise and brings a scheme for the same, only then it will be open to the petitioner to challenge it, if he finds it violative of any of his rights.

Therefore, rejecting petitioner’s prayer to issue an appropriate writ in the nature of declaration declaring political parties’ such act a corrupt political practice, Court said, “We cannot assume that every such scheme as and when thwarted by any political party is corrupt. We cannot pass a presumptive order.”

The petitioner had filed the PIL alleging that the promises made by political parties for the transfer of cash rob the voters to earn in exchange of physical labor or any kind of productivity known to Directive Principles of State policy.

He had also claimed that political parties make offer of direct cash transfer in their manifestos to allure the voters which is in violation of section 123 of the Representation of the People Act as well as the guidelines framed by the Election Commission of India. 

He had alleged that direct cash transfer offers are different than freebee promises and the top court while giving its decision on freebies, had no occasion to adjudicate upon the same.

However, the counsel for the Election Commission of India today opposed petitioner’s submissions and said that the money transfer schemes such as marriage schemes include cash along with the gold and other goods and the same were considered by the Supreme Court while tabling its decision on the freebies.


He argued that the petitioner had just made a general proposition that all cash transfers by the political parties should be declared ultra vires of the constitution. He questioned, “Is the issue raised by the petitioner even justiciable? Which are those provisions of fundamental rights that the petitioner is claiming to have been violated?”

“The petitioner is demanding that all cash transfer scheme should be declared unconstitutional. Can this be done? What will happen to the schemes like old age schemes? How can the petitioner ask the court to pass an omnibus declaration?” he added.

Considering the submissions made by both the parties, Court found no merit in the petition and dismissed the same.

(Detailed order is awaited)