Political parties’ manifestoes do not constitute corrupt practices under Section 123, says Karnataka High Court

Case Name: Sri Shahanka J Sreedhara v. Sri B.Z. Zameer Ahmed Khan 

Case No.: EP No. 15 of 2023 

Dated: April 25, 2024 

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice M.I. Arun 



According to the case’s facts, the petitioner, a voter in the Chamarajpet Assembly Constituency, has contested the choice of that constituency’s victorious candidate for the Karnataka State Legislature in 2023.  

As per the case circumstances, the petitioner, who is a voter in the Chamarajpet Assembly Constituency, has challenged the selection of the winning candidate for the Karnataka State Legislature in 2023 from within that constituency. 

Shashanka J Sreedhara, a voter from the Chamrajpet Assembly Constituency, filed the election petition. In the Karnataka State Legislature elections of 2023, he objected to the choice of B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan, the victorious candidate, who was standing in the same constituency. 

The basis for the challenge in the current election petition is that the five guarantees made by the Indian National Congress (INC) party in its manifesto—namely, (i) “Gruha Jyothi”—200 units of free electricity to every house; (ii) “Gruha Lakshmi”—Rs. 2,000/-per month to every woman head of the family; (iii) “Anna Bhagya”—10 kilogrammes of food grain per person in a BPL family per month; (iv) “Yuva Nidhi”—Rs. 3000/-per month for two years to unemployed graduates and Rs. 1,500/-per month for two years to unemployed diploma holders; (v) “Shakthi”—free travel to all women throughout the state in regular KSRTC/BMTC buses—amount to corrupt practices and for that reason  

The petitioners’ primary argument was that the promises stated in the party’s platform, the Indian National Congress (INC), amounted to unethical behaviour. They attempted to overturn the respondent’s election as the INC’s victorious candidate.  


The primary argument put out by the petitioners was that the promises stated in the party’s manifesto, the Indian National Congress (INC), amounted to illegal activity. As the respondent was an INC candidate who won, they attempted to nullify the election of the respondent.  

The petitioners’ main point of contention was that the promises made by the Indian National Congress (INC) in its platform amounted to unlawful conduct. Since the respondent was an INC candidate who emerged victorious, they endeavoured to void the respondent’s election.  

First and foremost, the petitioners contended that the promises made by the Indian National Congress (INC) in its platform amounted to unlawful action. They made an effort to overturn the respondent’s election because they were an INC candidate who was elected.  



The respondent argued that the petitioner had neither named the respondent candidate or levelled any specific accusations of corrupt behaviour. Instead, the Indian National Congress (INC) party’s manifesto was the centre of attention. 

The reply contended that the INC’s manifesto promises are a matter of policy and are not to be classified as corrupt practices. As stated by the reply, the manifesto’s pledges were a component of social welfare measures; their financial feasibility is a different story. 

The respondents said that the petitioner acknowledged during the arguments that the respondent had not been personally accused of engaging in any corrupt activities. But according to the petitioner, the INC’s manifesto was questionable, and its promised programmes would bankrupt the State Treasury and could not be put into action. 

In response, the respondent said that it is the responsibility of other parties to show how the execution of these plans would affect the public treasury. Essentially, the respondent stressed that Section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act does not apply to political party policy announcements, even if they contain promises or guarantees, because they are not considered corrupt acts. In the end, the court supported this position, acknowledging the significance of voters making educated choices. 



  • Section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act. Under “bribery,” any present, offer, or promise made to any individual with the intention of directly or indirectly encouraging gratification from a candidate, his agent, or any other person with the approval of the candidate or his election agent, to any person whatsoever, is considered to be the decision of a candidate to run in an election, whether to run or not, and whether to withdraw. 


  • Order 7 Rule 11 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC). In accordance with this rule, the respondent submitted a request to have the election petition dismissed. Based on this rule, the respondent’s opposition to the petition was taken into consideration by the court. 



According to the court, a party’s announcement about the policies they plan to put into place cannot be regarded as corrupt behaviour under Section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act.  

The court highlighted that voters should discuss whether or not the promises made by the INC party in its manifesto are reasonable and whether they have the impact of giving out freebies or placating a particular segment of society. Under the RP Act, the same cannot be regarded as a corrupt activity. 

Regarding specific corrupt activities, the petitioner did not level any personal accusations against the respondent candidate. Rather, the promises made in the manifesto were the main focus.  

The promises made in the INC manifesto were viewed by the court as social welfare measures. It is up to others to explain how the execution of these plans will affect the state treasury, even though their financial sustainability is a different matter. As per Section 123 of the Representation of Peoples Act, the court acknowledged that policy pronouncements made by political parties are not equivalent to corrupt acts, even if they contain promises or guarantees. The statement underscored the significance of informed voter decision-making in assessing policy pronouncements of this nature. 

In conclusion, the court recognised that knowledge is crucial when it comes to voters making decisions and that political parties’ policy statements shouldn’t be mistaken for corrupt activities under the RP Act.  


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Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora 


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Katchatheevu Island issue – Political turmoil over Sovereignty and Fishermen Rights: India v/s Sri Lanka


Katchatheevu Island is a very small and uninhabited island spanning 285 acres in the Palk Strait between India and Sri Lanka. It is spread covers around 1.6 km in length and slightly over 300 m wide at its widest point. It’s in proximity to both the countries. It is situated northeast of Rameshwaram, approximately 33 km from the Indian coast, and it lies around 62 km southwest of Jaffna, Sri Lanka’s northernmost point. The only structure on Katchatheevu is St. Anthony’s Church, built in the early 20th century. During an annual festival, Christian clergy from both India and Sri Lanka jointly conduct services, drawing pilgrims from both nations. However, despite the occasional influx of people, Katchatheevu is unsuitable for permanent habitation due to the absence of a freshwater source on the island. The geographical location of the island and rich fishing ground around the island makes it a point of contention between the two countries.

History on the sovereignty of Katchatheevu Island

The island during the early medieval period was under the control of Sri Lanka’s Jaffna kingdom. But, by the end of 17th century, it became a part of the Ramnad kingdom based in Ramanathapuram, India. In the British reign, it was administered as part of the Madras Presidency. From the early 1921, both India and Sri Lanka asserted their claims over the island to decide maritime fishing boundaries. After Indian Independence and establishment of Sri Lanka as a separate dominion, the status of Katchatheevu Island became a matter of dispute. While, Sri Lanka asserted its sovereignty over Katchatheevu by citing the Portuguese occupation of the island from 1505 to 1658 CE as evidence of jurisdiction, India relying on the various reports argued that the former Raja of Ramnad held possession of it as part of his estate and regularly collected taxes until the Abolition of Zamindari System.

Following such disputes the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi entered into a bilateral agreement with the Sri Lankan Government, wherein the island was officially ceded to Sri Lanka to resolve the maritime boundary issues in the region. However, since then it has led to a serious dispute especially among the fishermen of both the countries. The Congress Government defended its stance by stating that the decision regarding the island was made after thorough research of historical and other records pertaining to the island. The Katchatheevu Island involves the issue of fishing rights and the maritime security. Indian fishermen have traditionally used the water around the island for fishing purposes. But, consequent to the bilateral agreement in 1974, there have been numerous instances of arrests and detentions of the Indian fishermen and occasional violence. These conflicts have also caused a lot of diplomatic strains between India and Sri Lanka.

Life-line to the Indian Fishermen

The Indian fishermen mostly from the Tamil Nadu regions venture around the island for fishing and often encounter serious actions from the Sri Lankan authorities.

Article 4 of the Agreement stipulated that each State shall have sovereignty and exclusive jurisdiction and control over the waters, the Islands, the Continental Shelf and the subsoil on its side of the Maritime boundary in the Palk Strait and Palk Bay and Katchatheevu Island was determined as falling within Sri Lankan waters. The following article added that “Indian fishermen and pilgrims would enjoy access to the island as before and would not be required by Sri Lanka to obtain travel documents or visas for these purposes”.

During the time when the DMK governed Tamil Nadu in 1974, it contended that the Congress government had not considered its perspectives before signing the agreement with Sri Lanka. The party had organised several protests in response.

Under the leadership of J Jayalalithaa, the Tamil Nadu government consistently raised concerns about the issue and even resorted to legal action.

In anticipation of the visit by Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to India last year, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin had written to PM Modi, urging for discussions on the matter. He later corresponded with PM Modi again after numerous fishermen were detained by the Sri Lankan authorities.

In his letter dated February this year, Stalin further emphasised the impact on the livelihood of Tamil fishermen, citing the increasingly limited access to traditional fishing waters, which threatens the economic stability and social fabric of the communities dependent on the fishing industry.

Reasons for the spotlight on the issue

The report, published by The Times of India on March 31st and cited by Modi, was based on documents obtained by Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai. It appeared to indicate that past Congress governments did not attach much importance to the island located about 20 km from the Indian coastline. The issue is at the centre of a war of words between the BJP and the opposition Congress, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Indira Gandhi government of callously ceeding the territory to Colombo. After Modi cited a media report to criticise the 1974 India Sri Lanka agreement on the island, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge linked the premier’s stance to the upcoming general elections. Kharge likened the island’s ceding to the swapping of enclaves between India and Bangladesh in 2015 under Modi’s leadership and said both were friendly gestures towards neighbouring countries.

Relevance of Berubari Case to the present issue

The Nehru-Noon Agreement proposed to divide Berubari into two equal halves between India and Pakistan and the division was given effect by promulgating the Constitution (Ninth Amendment) Act, 1960. The Supreme Court’s ruling meant that a constitutional amendment would be needed to transfer Indian Territory to another country. While, the Constitution was amended in 1960, Berubari still remained a part of India. In light of such rulings, secession of Katchatheevu Island to the Sri Lankan Government which was done without any Constitutional amendment has to be overlooked.

Other Importance of Island

Geopolitical Location: Katchatheevu is strategically located in the Palk Strait, which serves as a crucial maritime route connecting the Bay of Bengal with the Gulf of Mannar and the Indian Ocean.

Security Concerns: Control over Katchatheevu provides India with strategic leverage in monitoring maritime activities in the region, including movements of vessels and potential security threats.

Fishing Resources: The waters around Katchatheevu are rich in marine resources, including fish and other seafood, which are vital for the livelihoods of fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

Commercial Potential: Control over Katchatheevu could facilitate the development of commercial activities such as fishing, aquaculture, and tourism, thereby boosting economic growth in the region.

Historical and Cultural Claims: Katchatheevu holds historical significance for India, with claims of traditional fishing rights by fishermen from Tamil Nadu dating back centuries. The island has historical and cultural significance for the Tamil communities in India and Sri Lanka, as it is associated with the legendary Tamil sage Thiruvalallur.

Concerns around the Island

The Restrictions on fishing activities around Katchatheevu imposed by Sri Lanka have led to humanitarian concerns, including instances of arrests, harassment, and loss of lives among Indian fishermen. It is essential from a humanitarian perspective to ensure the welfare and safety of fishermen and their families who depend on the waters for their sustenance. Further, Katchatheevu’s proximity to the Indian coast makes it a potential hub for smuggling activities, including arms, drugs, and contraband.


Katchatheevu Island despite its small size holds a large significance. It remains a complex issue between India and Sri Lanka due to its strategic location, impact on fishing rights, and cultural significance. The transfer of the island to Sri Lanka has strained bilateral ties and highlighted the need for a comprehensive resolution addressing maritime security, livelihood concerns of fishermen, and respecting the historical sentiments of both nations. It has turned out to be a blame game amidst the upcoming Lok Sabha polls instead to tackling the key concern around it. hence, resolving this long-standing dispute is the need of the hour to re-establish mutual understanding and fostering cooperation and stability in the region.


The Allahabad High court has ruled that Congress party must pay a sum of ₹2.66 crore to the UPSRTC for the utilisation for its vehicle during 1980s.

Title: UP Congress Committee vs State of UP And Others.

Decided on: 05-10-2023.

Writ C No. – 3740/1998.

CORAM: Hon’ble Justice Vivek Chaudhary, Hon’ble Justice Manish Kumar.


The Allahabad High Court directed the Congress Party to pay over ₹2.66 crore to the Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) within three months for using its buses and taxis between 1981 and 1989.

A division bench of Justice Vivek Chaudhary and Justice Manish Kumar rejected the allegation of political vendetta raised by Congress and said that the amount should be paid along with an interest of 5 percent from the date it is due.

Facts of the Case:

Dispute between UP Congress Committee (UPCC) and Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (U.P.S.R.T.C.) wherein U.P.S.R.T.C. claims Rs. 2,68,29,879.78 from UPCC for using its vehicles during UPCC’s government tenure.

A recovery notice dated 10.11.1998 triggered the legal battle thereafter UPCC filed a writ petition, arguing the recovery notice’s legality under the U.P. Public Moneys (Recovery of Dues) Act, 1972.

The case has been pending since 1998 without resolution and Documents show unpaid bills for vehicles used in political activities. UPCC claims these were instructed by the State Government.

The primary legal issue is whether the amount can be recovered as land revenue under the Act, despite no specific agreement.

Court’s Analysis and Decision:

The court notes that while there may not be a specific agreement for recovery under the Act of 1972, the petitioner did use the services of U.P.S.R.T.C. for its political activities, and bills were raised for these services.

The petitioner UPCC is directed to pay to the respondents U.P.S.R.T.C. the entire due of Rs.266 Lakhs along with an interest of 5% from the date it is due within a period of three months.

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The High court in Delhi has issued an order in response to Congress Young Leader Lokesh Chugh’s complaint about DU’s delay in admitting his Ph.D. thesis.

  • Title: LOKESH CHUGH v. UNIVERSITY OF DELHI & ORS. on 13 April, 2023

W.P.(C) 4649/2023 & CM APPL 17922/2023

Lokesh Chugh, Ph.D. Scholar and National Secretary of NSUI has moved the Delhi High Court against the Delhi University’s “inaction and delay” in recognizing his thesis, despite the university’s decision to bar him from taking an exam for an entire year due to his purported role in a showing of a documentary by the BBC on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav, who overturned the debarment judgment, issued a notice on Chugh’s petition, requesting a response from the Delhi University and other authorities, and scheduled a hearing for July 17.

Facts of the Case

Chugh, who is being represented by Advocates Naman Joshi and Ritika Vohra, has stated that he had been rushing from pillar to post to submit his Ph.D. thesis to the university but has received no answer from the authorities.

According to the petition, the Vice Chancellor of Delhi University stated publicly during a media engagement with the Times of India that the university intends to pursue an appeal against the verdict. Throughout today’s session, Chugh’s counsel argued that the varsity had not filed an appeal and that the judgement had not yet been stayed. Allowing Chugh to present the matter before the absence of the bench,

According to Chugh’s counsel, Justice Kaurav directed the varsity to comply with the decision if there is no stay. On April 27, Justice Kaurav overturned DU’s judgment citing a “violation of natural justice” and reinstated Chugh’s admission.

Courts Analysis and Decision

The judge rejected Chugh’s petition, which challenged a memorandum issued by the Registrar’s office on March 10 that barred him from sitting the exams for a year. He had also contested a probable cause order issued by the Proctor’s office on February 16 that stated he was involved in a disruption of law and order at the institution during the showing of the doc.

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Written by- Anushka Satwani