We believe legal advocacy for Political and Electoral Reforms is as essential as any other research. Our commitment to this sphere has resulted in us filing numerous complaints and PILs with Central Information Commission, Supreme Court/ High Court as well as other Central and State agencies. This section documents all details of previous and ongoing RTI disclosures and PILs.


Supreme Court/High Court Orders


 

1) Disclosure of Candidate Background (Criminal, Educational & Financial) to Election Commission. 

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by ADR in December 1999 culminated into a landmark Supreme Court Judgement on May 2, 2002 and an ordinance on Electoral Reforms promulgated in August 2002. The Ordinance was subsequently passed as a Bill in December 2002. It partially overturned the May 2, 2002 Supreme Court Judgement, requiring disclosure of criminal background, but not of financial and educational background. ADR and two other petitioners challenged this Act. The Supreme Court, in a second landmark Judgement on March 13, 2003, struck down the Bill as unconstitutional and restored its earlier order. Subsequently, the Election Commission issued orders implementing the following judgements:

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Delhi High Court's Judgement-AIR(2001) Delhi 126, (2001) 99 DLT 675, 2000(57)DRJ 82

2nd November 2000

Supreme Court's Judgement-(2002) 5 SCC 294, AIR 2002 SC 2112 

2nd May 2002

Supreme Court's Judgement-AIR 2003 SC 2363, JT 2003 (2) SC 528, (2003)2 SCR 1136

13th March 2003

2) The Supreme Court's Judgement On NOTA. 

On a petition filed by Common Cause for having a separate button on the Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) with the option of ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) and in which ADR later intervened, the Supreme Court gave a favourable ruling on 27th Sept. 2013. The NOTA button was inserted in the EVM machines first time during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgement

27th September 2013

3) Disqualification Of Convicted MPs/MLAs

On a petition filed by Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari NGO, where ADR also intervened, the Supreme Court stated that if a sitting MP/MLA is convicted (not only charged) then he/ she would be disqualified immediately and the seat would be declared as vacant, setting aside the Clause 8(4) of the Representation of People Act. The Clause 8(4) had provided special privilege to MPs/MLAs to hold the office even after conviction if an appeal has been filed in a higher court within the span of 3 months.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgement

10th July 2013

4) ADR' plea in SC to bring Political Parties under RTI

Urging the Supreme Court to declare all the national and regional political parties as "public authorities" and bring them within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal filed a petition in the Apex Court on 19th May 2015. The first hearing in the case took place on 7th July 2015 wherein the Apex Court admitted the plea and sought responses from all the national political parties, Election Commission and the Central government within six-week. To its counter, Government of India had filed its affidavit stating that they do not come under RTI Act. Central Information Commission (CIC), on June 3, 2013, had declared six national political parties, namely the INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP to be “public authorities” under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, on a complaint filed by ADR and Mr. Agrawal but none of the parties complied with the order. Ultimately on 16th March 2015, the CIC said that the RTI Act does not provide the Commission with ample powers to deal with the cases of contempt and non-compliance.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR's Petition in Supreme Court

19th May 2015

GOI's Counter Affidavit before Supreme Court

21st August 2015

5) Election Expenditure Of Political Parties

On a petition filed by ADR, the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Government of India and the Election Commission to monitor election expenditure of political parties. The next hearing is scheduled for 9th July, 2015.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR Writ Petition in Delhi High Court

20th May 2014

Additional Affidavit filed by ECI

29th April 2015

6) Foreign Funding of Political Parties

ADR's petition resulted in a landmark judgement from the Delhi HC which held BJP and Congress guilty of taking foreign funding and violating the provisions of FCRA and directed the Home Ministry and ECI to take action against the two parties within six months. Both INC and BJP have separately appealed against this Delhi HC order in the SC, however, the SC while accepting the appeal refused to grant stay over Delhi HC order.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap of the Case

28th March 2014

Delhi High Court Judgment

28th March 2014

7) Ashok Shankarao Chavan vs. Madhao Rao Kindhalkar and Others: The Alleged Paid News Case

This case relates to complaints against former Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan for publication of news items, advertisements and filing inaccurate election expenditure statements during 2009 Maharashtra Assembly elections. In the matter on May 5, 2014, the Supreme court had passed a judgment holding that ECI has powers to disqualify a candidate in relation to filing of false election expenditure statement under Section 10A. ADR had also intervened in the case.  Afterwards, the Apex court had ordered ECI to conduct an enquiry under Rule 89(4) of Conduct of Election Rules and decide the matter within 45 days. Consequently, ECI had passed an order on July 13, 2014 and also issued a show cause notice to Mr. Chavan. As a result, Ashok Chavan filed an appeal in Delhi High court on July 25, 2014 against the show cause notice. Based on the appeal, Delhi High court had imposed a stay order on ECI's said order on July 28, 2014. That stay order was then challenged in the SC. The SC did not entertain the plea stating that the question of law involved in the current appeal was not dealt by the Supreme Court in the previous matter and it  ordered Delhi High court to dispose off the matter within 15 days. Currently, the matter is now pending before a double bench of Delhi High Court and the next date of hearing is July 14, 2015.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap Of The Case

5th May 2014

Delhi High Court Judgement (Single Bench)

28th July 2014

Supreme Court Final Judgement

5th May 2014


CIC Orders

 

1) Political Parties Under RTI

Central Information Commission (CIC), on June 3, 2013, had declared six national political parties, namely the INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP to be "public authorities" under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, on a complaint filed by ADR and Subhash Agrawal.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap for the Complaint

3rd June 2013

Judgement given by CIC to bring Political Parties under RTI

3rd June 2013

2) Register of Interests of Rajya Sabha Members

Pecuniary information of the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament) members was brought in the public domain in 2011 under RTI Act by ADR.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Copy of the Appeal

3rd June 2011

3) Disclosure of Income Tax Returns of Political Parties

ADR filed an appeal with the Central Informal Commission’s (CIC) which in its 2008 order made the Income Tax Returns (ITR) of political parties available for the public under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Copy of the Appeal

29th April 2008

4) Order to CBI Regarding Providing Information on Complaints Against MPs, MLAs and MLCs

In 2011 ADR sought information from CBI relating to the complaints against MP, MLA and MLCs in the past 10 years. The CIC subsequently ordered CBI to disclose all the available information.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Copy of the Appeal

16th July 2012

5) Disclosure of MPs' IT Returns - Matter Pending Before the CIC

ADR filed an appeal with the Central Informal Commission (CIC) to disclose ITRs of elected representatives in 2010. The matter is still pending at CIC.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap for the Complaint

6th May 2010

1) Rajbala Vs State of Haryana: Minimum Educational Qualifications for Panchayat Elections

While delivering the judgement, the Supreme Court bench observed, "It is necessary that the elected representative must have some educational background to enable him/her to effectively carry out the functions assigned to Panchyats. It is an essential tool for a bright future and plays an important role in the development and progress of the country".

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgment

10th December 2015

2) Krishnamoorthy Vs Sivakumar: 'Suppression of Information' by candidates contesting elections about Pending Criminal Cases. 

The SC listed out following categories of the offences, suppression of which would amount to disqualification of the candidate. 
They are:
A) Where cognizance has been taken by the Court.
B) Where charges have been framed by the Court.
C) Cases involving serious and heinous crimes.
D) Offences punishable with imprisonment of two years and more.
E) Offences related to corrupt practices and undue influence.
F) Offences related to moral turpitude. 
 

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Order

5th February 2015

3) Manoj Narula vs. Union of India: Appointment of persons charged with heinous or serious criminal charges as Ministers

This PIL was filed by Manoj Narula under Article 32 of the Constitution of India assailing the appointment of some of the MPs to the Council of Ministers of Union of India despite their involvement in serious and heinous crimes. While delivering the judgement, the Supreme Court observed that the Prime Minister’s power to choose members of his cabinet cannot be restricted but it has left it to the wisdom of the PM and CMs not to recommend a person with criminal antecedents against whom charges have been framed for heinous or serious criminal offences or charges of corruption to become a minister of the council of ministers.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgement

27th August 2014

4) Kisan Shankar Kathore vs. Arun Dattatray Sawant: Non-disclosure of spouse’s assets by Candidates ground for disqualification

In this case, Arun Dattatray Sawant, a voter from Ambernath in Thane, challenged the victory of Kisan Shankar Kathore, MLA from his constituency, on the grounds that he suppressed information on his wife’s assets. Delivering the judgement in this case, the bench said non-disclosure by a candidate of the assets and property owned by his or her spouse and children while filing nomination for an election is a ground for disqualification.

The SC referred to the landmark judgment of Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms and held that it was incumbent upon every candidate, who is contesting election, to give information about his assets and other affairs. This requirement is not only essential part of fair and free elections, in as much as, every voter has a right to know about these details of the candidates, such a requirement is also covered by freedom of speech granted under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgment

9th May 2014

5) Public Interest Foundation vs. Union of India: Fast-tracking of cases against MPs and MLAs within one year by HC & lower courts

In its interim order on a PIL by NGO "Public Interest Foundation", the SC observed "Where sitting MPs and MLAs are facing corruption cases and other serious offences (which involve a punishment of more than two years on conviction), the trial will be completed expeditiously on a day-to-day basis and in no instance later than one year from the date of framing of charges."

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Order

10th March 2014

6) Resurgence India vs. Election Commission of India: Candidate hiding facts in affidavits cannot contest

In this case, the SC observed that a candidate who hides facts or gives false information on his affidavit, including on his wealth or criminal past, cannot contest elections. "Voters have a fundamental right to know about their candidates and non-disclosure or suppression of information in affidavits by candidates will result in their nomination being rejected," the apex court said. The petition was filed by an NGO, Resurgence India, which in its appeal said that the Election Commission should reject nominations of those who leave vital information out of their affidavits.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgement

13th Sept 2013

7) Moti Lal Yadav Vs Chief Election Commissioner, Election Commisn Of India: Allahabad High Court Judgment on Caste-based Rallies

A Bench of Justices Uma Nath Singh and Mahendra Dayal of the Allahabad High Court banned caste-based rallies in Uttar Pradesh on a public interest litigation petition filed by local lawyer Motilal Yadav. The High Court had also issued notices to the Central and State governments, the Election Commission, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party. In his petition, Mr Yadav argued that there was an upsurge in caste-based political rallies in the State, and prayed for a ban on such rallies as they were against the spirit of the Constitution and created enmity along caste lines.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Allahabad High Court's Judgement

11th July 2013

8) S. Subramaniam Balaji Vs The Government of Tamil Nadu: Supreme Court Judgment on Election Manifestos

In this case, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of India to frame guidelines to restrain political parties from promising freebies to voters in their election manifestos. A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi said: “Freebies shake the root of free and fair elections to a large degree.” Considering that “there is no enactment that directly governs the contents of the manifesto,” the Bench directed the Election Commission to frame guidelines for the same in consultation with all recognised parties. The apex court said, a separate head for manifesto guidelines could be included in the Model Code of Conduct for the Guidance of Political Parties and Candidates.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Supreme Court's Judgement

5th July 2013

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