The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Election Commission (EC) to decide a complaint alleging violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by the Andhra Pradesh government.
The court was hearing a plea filed by an organisation Jana Chaitanya Vedika which alleged that the Chandrababu Naidu-led Andhra Pradesh government had violated the model code. The organisation made two representations to the EC on March 12 and March 30 seeking appropriate action against the state government to keep the transfer of amounts in abeyance till the date of polling.
Justice Yogesh Khanna asked the Commission to dispose of the two representations by passing a speaking order by Thursday evening. The court listed the matter for further hearing on April 5.
Representing the Jana Chaitanya Vedika, Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran and lawyer Ashish Virmani told the court that the Andhra Pradesh government on January 25 launched a new scheme named ‘Pasupu Kumkuma’, which was implemented in February. Under this scheme, financial help was provided to women registered with self-help groups to improve their lives and the state government was providing Rs 10,000 cash and a smartphone to every eligible applicant.
"According to the scheme, about 93 lakh women will benefit (from the scheme) and the financial aid was to be paid in three instalments within three months. It may be noted that there was no budgetary allocation for the said scheme for the year 2018-19. In this respect, two instalments of Rs 6,000 have already been transferred to the accounts, and the last instalment of Rs 4,000 is likely to transferred on April 5, i.e. just before the polling on April 11," the counsel said.
Two more schemes were launched in January -- one was to enhance old age pension amount from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month, while the other AP Annadatha Sukhibhav scheme was for farmers.
The counsel has questioned the imminent disbursal of the amounts under the schemes to the public days before the state goes to polls.
The counsel said that the action of the AP government to transfer the funds under the garb of schemes just prior to the polling is ex-facie mala fide and a deliberate attempt to influence the voters using public money.
If the Andhra government is permitted to proceed with disbursal, it would amount to a serious violation of not only the Model Code of Conduct but also impede a clean and fair electoral process, which is an essential condition for any democracy, the counsel argued.