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.

1) ADR's plea in SC to bring Political Parties under RTI Supreme Court

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

2) ADR's petition challenging Finance Act, 2017; Electoral Bonds and Removal of company's limit to donate: W.P (C) 880/2017 Supreme Court

This petition challenges the Finance Act, 2017 which was enacted as a money bill which introduced the electoral bond scheme for the purpose of electoral funding. The Act has also removed the previous limit of 7.5% of the company’s average three-year net profit for political donations. A company is no longer required to name the political parties to which such contributions are made. The donors’ name is also not revealed to the public. These amendments will result in opaqueness, heighten the odds of conflict of interest and also drastically increase black money and corruption. It will also lead to the creation of shell companies and rise of benami transactions to channelize the undocumented money into the political and electoral process in India.

Current Status of the matter:

 

On 5th March, 2019 ADR and Common Cause filed the first application for stay against the sale/purchase of electoral bonds for Lok Sabha 2019 elections. In the stay application ADR had contended that enormous amounts of corporate funding would be received by political parties during the general elections and this would play a critical role in the elections. In response to ADR’s application, the Supreme Court in its interim order dated 12th April, 2019 directed all political parties to submit details of donations received via Electoral Bonds to the Election Commission of India in a sealed cover on or before 30th May 2019. 

 

On 29th November 2019, ADR and Common Cause filed a second application for stay against the sale/purchase of Electoral bonds to bring on record certain vital documents which have surfaced recently and have a strong bearing on the instant case.

 

On 26th October, 2020 ADR and Common Cause filed a third application for an urgent listing of the petition before the Supreme Court of India. The application for an urgent hearing was filed because;

  • ADR's petition was last heard by the Supreme Court on 20-01-2020 and hasn't been listed since then, i.e., for the last 9 months, even though very significant questions concerning democratic functioning of the country are raised in the instant matter which requires urgent adjudication. 
  • Right before the Bihar Legislative Assembly Elections, the State Bank of India, in the XIV Phase of sale, issued Electoral Bonds through its 29 Authorized branches w.e.f. 19.10.2020 to 28.10.2020.
  • Whereas the Electoral Bond Scheme dated 02-01-2018 clearly stipulates sale of electoral bonds in January, April, July and October months of each year; however, the window was not opened in April and July, but was opened in October'20, right before the Bihar Legislative Elections, 2020.

On 9th March, 2021, ADR and Common Cause filed a fourth application for stay on any further purchase of Electoral Bonds before the upcoming state elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry and Assam as it would further increase the illegal, illicit and anonymous political funding.

 

Next date of hearing:24th March, 2021

Related News:

  1. Absence of disclosures and poor enforcement of transparency leaves gaping hole in India’s electoral bond scheme (Financial Express)
  2. Limit political donations by companies: Ex-chief of law commission (Times Of India)
  3. Electoral Bonds: Not a single bond of Rs 1000 & Rs 10000 sold even in July (Factly)
  4. Elections Are Coming – and There’s a Problem with Electoral Bonds (The Quint)
  5. The Problem With the Supreme Court Order on Electoral Bonds (The Quint)
  6. Experts Slam Modi Govt’s Reply to Electoral Bond Challenge in SC (Bloomberg|Quint)
  7. India now has over 2,500 political parties, some suspected of ‘black money’ operations (The Print)

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR's Writ Petition in Supreme Court

4th September 2017

Summary of petition in SC against electoral Bonds

Note on Electoral Bonds And Opacity In Political Funding NEW!

9th March 2021

Supreme Court Order

3rd October 2017

Counter affidavit on behalf Ministry of Finance, Income Tax(L&R)(Respondent No.1)

10th January 2018

Counter affidavit on behalf of Ministry of Law and Justice (Respondent No.2)

March 2018

First Application for stay of Electoral Bond scheme, 2018

5th March 2019

ECI Letter To Ministry Of Law And Justice Regarding Political Funding And Amendments To Finance Act 2017

15th March & 26th May 2017

Counter Affidavit on behalf of ECI(Respondent No.3)

27th March 2019 

Counter Affidavit on behalf of Ministry of Finance (Respondent No.1)

1st April 2019 

Supreme Court Interim Order

12th April 2019 

Second Application for stay of Electoral Bond scheme, 2018

29th November 2019 

Third Application for urgent hearing

26th October 2020 

Fourth Application for stay of Electoral Bond scheme, 2018 

9th March, 2021 

Fifth Application for an urgent listing of the petition before the Supreme Court of India NEW!

23rd August, 2021 

3)ADR's petition challenging amendments to FCRA,1976 and 2010Supreme Court

ADR's petition challenges the amendments made with retrospective effect in the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 through the Finance Act, 2016 and Finance Act, 2018, which was passed as a Money Bill.These amendments were seen as an attempt to overturn the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in March 2014 holding the two major political parties, BJP and INC, guilty of accepting foreign funding. The Delhi High Court ordered the Central Government and Election Commission of India to take action against BJP and INC within six months.These amendments to the FCRA law have opened doors to unlimited political donations from foreign companies and also legitimizing financial contributions received from foreign sources. The petition was necessitated due to the intransigence of the Central Government in complying with the Delhi HC order of March 2014 and instead trying to get BJP and INC off the hook by amending the FCRA 2010 in 2016 and subsequently the FCRA 1976 in March 2018.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR Writ Petition in Supreme Court

April 2018

4) W.P (C) No. 1382/2019: Petition on voter discrepancies and mechanism of declaration of election resultSupreme Court

On 4th November, 2019, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and Common Cause filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to seek directions from the Supreme Court to order the Election Commission of India to completely stop the practice of announcing election results based on provisional and estimated data, prior to an actual and accurate reconciliation of data. Even for Lok Sabha 2019 Elections, the Election Commission had announced election results in all constituencies on 23rd May 2019, based on estimated data. This is verified by Election Commission’s Press Note dated 01 June 2019 that stated “…the final data on votes counted has been made available within a few days of declaration of results……”

 

In addition, ADR also seeks a direction from Supreme Court to the ECI to evolve an efficient, transparent, rational and robust procedure/mechanism by creating a separate department/grievance cell for investigation of discrepancies in election data and for responding to the elector’s queries on the same. Through this petition, ADR is not challenging or questioning the final result of 2019 General Elections or the election process in the country. However, the issues and irregularities that arose in the conduct of the election/result of 2019 General Elections have been cited as arguments for effectuating free and fair elections, the survival of democracy and enforcement of fundamental rights. Based on our petition, on 13th December, 2019, the Supreme Court of India had issued notices to the Election Commission of India and Union of India.

Current Status of the matter:

 

On 27th February, 2020 an application was filed against the ‘mysterious rush and urgency’ shown by the Election Commission of India by destroying the VVPAT slips used in 2019 Lok Sabha elections in just four months after the results were declared. This was in contravention of the rules prescribed under the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961. Rule 94 (b) of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 states that, “the used or printed slips in any election shall be retained for one year from the date of declaration of the results of the election. and shall thereafter be destroyed.  ADR’s petition has been pending in the Supreme Court since November, 2019. Therefore, an application in the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission of India to;

  • On 27th February, 2020 ADR filed an application in the Supreme Court to direct the Election Commission of India to;
  • Not to destroy or dispose of VVPAT paper slips generated in any election in the last one year and to retain the same at least for a period of one year in consonance with the rules of Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961;
  • To retain all other documents pertaining to the 17th Lok Sabha elections held in April, 2019. 

Next date of hearing: Matter is likely to be listed on 10th February,2021. 

Related News

EVM Vote Count Mismatch In 370+ Seats and EC Refuses to Explain (The Quint)


Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Application filed in the Supreme Court against disposal of VVPAT slips

27th February 2020

ADR Writ Petition in Supreme Court

November 2019

Brief Summary of the petition  

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.Delhi High Court

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR Writ Petition in Delhi High Court

20th May 2014

ADR's counter affidavit

7th Jan 2016

ECI's Additional affidavit

16th April 2018

High Court's Order

25th April 2018

6) FCRA Tribunal CaseDelhi High Court

In the petition,the petitioners have sought constitution of quasi-judicial tribunal, under Article 226 of the Constitution, to administer enforcement of Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 (FCRA), in order to avoid the misuse of FCRA.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

ADR Writ Petition in Delhi High Court

September 2015

Counter Affidavit On Behalf Of Union Of India  

11th July 2016

7) H.C.P 90/2020, Jamuna Vs. Secretary to Government of India and OthersMadras High Court

On 30th September, 2020, Madras High Court suo motu impleaded Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)  in a Habeas Corpus petition in the matter of Jamuna vs. The Secretary to Government of India and Others; H.C.P No. 90/2020.  In the said matter, the Madras High Court in its order dated 30/08/2020 had taken a serious note of the close and an alarming nexus between criminals, police and political parties. The court had further made the following observations;

"1) The Central Government has to come out with a comprehensive legislation to prohibit persons with criminal background from contesting elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and local bodies.

2)Why not the Central Government enact a law to prohibit candidates with criminal background contesting the elections to the Parliament as well as State legislatures as suggested by the Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 25.09.2018.”

 

On 1st October, 2020, ADR also filed its written submission before the Madras High Court. In its submission ADR had contented the following;

  • Disqualification of persons from contesting any of the elections to the public offices against whom charges have been framed for having committed serious criminal offences punishable by imprisonment of at least 5 years, and the case is filed at least 6 months prior to the election in question;
  • Permanent disqualification of persons convicted of heinous crimes.
  • Trial of cases in which the politicians are accused to be concluded in a time bound manner; and/or
  • De-register and de-recognise any political party if it knowingly puts up a candidate with a tainted background;
  • Each political party to annually file the information on criminal antecedents of their Office Bearers and make such records available to the public, including NIL records.

 

Next date of hearing: Next date of hearing is yet to be given.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Written submission in HCP. No. 90/2020

October 2020

8) Petition challenging the constitutional validity of the current practice of appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners by Executive. Supreme Court

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

Final Writ Petition (Election Commission)

17th May, 2021

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

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 126,2000 SCC Online DEL 836

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,(2003)2 SCR 1136,MANU/SC/0234/2003

13th March 2003

2) The Supreme Court's Judgement On NOTA. Supreme Court

On a petition filed by PUCL 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/MLAsSupreme Court

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 (2013) 7 SCC 653, (2013) 3 SCC (Civ.) 678, (2013) 3 SCC (Cri.) 641

10th July 2013

4) Foreign Funding Taken By BJP and INCDelhi High CourtSupreme Court

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 had 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. On 29th November 2016, the Special Leave Petitions (SLPs) filed by BJP and INC were dismissed as withdrawn by the Supreme Court.

Related News:

  1. Retro rules make a comeback (Telegraph)
  2. 2016 Amendment to the FCRA (Corporate Law Reporter)

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap of the Case

2014

Delhi High Court Judgment. 2014 SCC Online Del 1321, (2014) 209 DLT 607

28th March 2014

Supreme Court Judgement

29th November 2016

ADR's contempt petition filed in Delhi HC

21st March 2017

5) Ashok Shankarao Chavan vs. Madhao Rao Kindhalkar and Others: The Alleged Paid News CaseDelhi High CourtSupreme Court

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.

Judgement/Order

Date of issue

A Roadmap Of The Case

2014

Delhi High Court Judgement (Single Bench). (2014) 7 SCC 99

28th July 2014

Supreme Court Final Judgement

5th May 2014

6) Supreme Court in the matter of Satish Ukey vs. Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis & ANR Supreme Court

ADR had filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court in an SLP in the matter of Satish Ukey vs. Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis SLP (Crl.) 19-20/2018. This matter dealt with concealment of information by Maharashtra C.M. Devendra Fadnavis in his affidavit during the Maharashtra State Assembly elections, 2014. In his affidavit, he had not mentioned the information regarding two criminal cases prescribing punishment of more than two years and where cognizance was taken by the court. ADR had intervened in the matter since the matter is pertaining to furnishing of information in the affidavits by candidates at the time of election and ADR was the original party in the 2000, 2002 and 2003 affidavit judgments.

Supreme Court Judgment: Relevant points of the SC judgment dated 1st October, 2019

  • For maintaining purity of elections and healthy democracy, voters are required to be educated and well informed about the contesting candidates. There is no necessity of suppressing the relevant facts from the voters.
  • Under Section 33-A(1) of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951, cases in which cognizance has been taken by the court was not added, despite 2002 & 2003 SC ruling.
  • Mr Devendra Gangadharrao Fadnavis missed out on giving details of two cases where court has taken the cognizance.
  • Section 33-A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 and Rule 4-A of the Conduct of Election Rules, 1961 and Form-26 make it amply clear that the information to be furnished also includes cases where cognizance has been taken by the court.
  • Details of all pending cases in which cognizance has been taken by the Court, irrespective of the quantum of punishment or framing of charges will have to be disclosed by the candidate.
  • Under Section 125A, furnishing of any false information or concealing of information in the affidavit in Form 26 is an electoral offence punishable with imprisonment upto six months, or with fine or both.
  • Order of the High Court as well as trial court is not legally tenable and the same deserves to be set aside.
  • The complaint of the appellant will be considered afresh by the learned trial Court.

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    A Roadmap of the case

    2019

    Supreme Court Judgment

    1st October,2019

    7) Supreme Court in the matter of Lok Prahari vs. Union of India and others Supreme Court

    Matter related to disproportionate assets of the elected representatives and a mechanism to cross- verify their assets in the affidavits.

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    A Roadmap of the case

    2015

    SC Judgment in Lok Prahari vs. Union of India and Ors. W.P (C) 784/2015

    16th February 2018

     1) Sh. Nand Ram Bagri Vs. Sh Jai Kishan & ORS. : Justice Endlaw judgment on election petition filed in the Delhi High Court( EL. PET. 14/2009 )

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Delhi High Court Judgment

    7th May 2013

     2) S. Subramaniam Balaji Vs. The Government Of Tamil Nadu & Ors. : Civil Appeal No. 5130 of 2013

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment

    5th July 2013

     3) Moti Lal Yadav Vs. Election Commission Of India & Ors. : Caste Based Rallies ( MISC. BENCH No. - 5889 of 2013 )

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Allahabad High Court Judgment

    11th July 2013

     4) Resurgence India Vs. Election Commission OF India 

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment.  (AIR 2014 SC 344) 

    13th September 2013

     5) Public Intrest foundation & Ors. Vs. Union Of India & Anr. :W P(CIVIL) NO. 536 OF 2011

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Daily Order

    10th March 2014

    Supreme Court's Judgment

    25th September 2018

    RAMBABU SINGH THAKUR Versus SUNIL ARORA & ORS. (CONTEMPT PET. (C) NO. 2192 OF 2018)

    13th February 2020

    SC judgment in the matter of Brajesh Singh vs. Sunil Arora & Ors.

    10th August 2021

     6) Kisan shankar Kathore Vs. Arun Dattatray Sawant & Ors. : Civil Appeal No. 4261 of 2007

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment

    9th May 2014

     7) Manoj Narula vs. Union Of India : 

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court's Judgment.(2014) 9 SCC 1  , W.P (C) 289/2005

    27th August 2014


     8) Krishnamoorthy Vs. Sivakumar & Ors.: Suppression Of Information About Pending Criminal Cases

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment. (AIR 2015 SC 1921)

    5th February 2015

     9) Rajbala & Ors. Vs. State Of Haryana & Ors. :Minimum Educationl Qualification For Panchayat Election (W P(Civil) No. 671/2015)

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment

    10th December 2015

      10) Shri Marembam Prithviraj @ Prithviraj Singh vs. Phukrem Sharatchandra Singh : Civil Appeal No. 2649/2016

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Judgment

    28th October 2016

     11) Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs. Union of India & Anr. : WP(C) 699/2016

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Daily Order

    1st November 2017

     12) Jamuna vs. Secretary, Govt. Of India and others, HCP 90/2020: Madras High Court Order on enacting a law prohibiting candidates with criminal background from contesting in Parliamentary, Assembly amd Local body elections.

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Madras High Court Order

    13th August 2020

     13) Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs. Union of India & Anr. : WP(C) 699/2016

    Judgement/Order

    Date of issue

    Supreme Court Interim Order

    10th August 2021

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