The Delhi High Court Monday said a plea alleging that the Andhra Pradesh government has attempted to influence voters by launching schemes, including giving monetary benefits, ahead of polls, has become infructuous.
Justice Yogesh Khanna declined the plea of Jana Chaitanya Vedika in which it had sought direction to the state government to keep the transfer of funds, as part of the schemes, in abeyance till the elections are over.
The plea has become infructuous as the entire money has already been disbursed, the court noted.
A similar petition, which was filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, has also been dismissed.
The plea had alleged that the Telugu Desam Party (TDP)-led dispensation was attempting to influence voters through various schemes, including giving monetary benefits, ahead of polls.
The court was earlier informed that in pursuance to its directions, the Election Commission has taken a decision on the representations of the organisation, which had alleged that disbursal of money under these schemes, after the Lok Sabha election was notified, amounted to violation of the Model Code of Conduct.
The EC, in its speaking order, had said the scheme in question was announced prior to the MCC came into force and the commission has directed the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the state through a April 2 letter to follow the instructions and that no publicity should be given on release of funds.
The organisation had said that on January 25, the state government had launched a scheme 'Pasupu Kumkuma' to be implemented from February in which financial help was to be provided to the self-help groups registered women.
Under this scheme, the state government was to give cash/direct grant of Rs 10,000 and a smart phone to the eligible applicants and as per the state about 93 lakh women would benefit from this scheme. The amount was to be paid in three installments within three months, the organisation's counsel had said.
He added that two installments of Rs 6,000 have already been paid and the last installment was to be paid on April 5, which should be deferred till elections in the state.
The petition, filed through advocate Ashish Virmani, had alleged that the state government's action to transfer the funds under the group of schemes just prior to polling scheduled for April 11, is ex-facie mala fide and a deliberate attempt to influence the voters using public money.
Besides the scheme for women, the state government also enhanced pension amount from Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000 per month to old age persons, widow, toddy tappers, weavers, single woman and fishermen, and the amounts are likely to be transferred within next 10 days, the plea had said.
It had said the state government made a provision in the budget for Annadatha Sukhibhava scheme, in which a farmer family will get Rs 10,000, including Rs 6,000 announced by the central government recently.
The counsel for the Election Commission had said the schemes mentioned in the petition were announced before the MCC came into force. Now it is not within the purview of the poll panel to stop such schemes and it can only issue direction to the state government to avoid publicity of any kind, the counsel had said.
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