On October 10, a complaint was filed by Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) with the Election Commission of India (ECI) against Shubhkaran Choudhary, Rajasthan BJP leader and former member of the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly from Udaipurwati Vidhan Sabha constituency. The complaint highlighted a speech made by Choudhary wherein he has promoted corrupt electoral practices by capturing of booth and casting of fake votes.
A video of the impugned speech of Choudhary had been uploaded on ‘X’ (formerly known as Twitter) by Prakash Kanojia, national campaign in-charge of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and a former journalist. In the said video, Choudhary can be seen addressing a crowd and guiding people regarding ‘the best time to cast fake votes.’ In the video, he can be heard saying, “Surround the EVM booth before 10:00 am in the morning. In the morning the crowd is less, so come in the morning to cast your fake votes. Fake votes are cast early in the morning. Originals are cast later.”
The aforementioned video can be accessed here:
— Prashant Kanojia (@KanojiaPJ) October 1, 2023
Through the complaint, CJP has highlighted that Choudhary’s speech promotes corrupt practices and manipulation of votes in blatant contravention of election law, the principle of voluntary, free and fair elections and amount to undue influence from a man in a politically powerful position. It was also emphasized that the words openly uttered by him defy the laws established and has the potential to impact the trust and belief every citizen has in the free and fair election process of India.
CJP has urged that in consideration of the upcoming election in the state of Rajasthan, on f November 23, 2023, these brazen violative acts and concerted attempts to influence and misguide the voters are strictly evaluated and acted upon. The complaint details the provision of clause 2 of Section 123 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 which covers the offence of ‘Undue Influence’.
The stance of the Supreme Court on promise of freebies and promotion corrupt electoral practices has also been highlighted in the said complaint. It has been provided that in the year of 2022, a clutch of petitions seeking a judicial direction against political parties who make “wild” promises of largesse were referred to a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court by the then Chief Justice of India N V Ramana. Former CJI Ramana had also remarked that t “freebies may create a situation wherein the State government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the State is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy”.
The complaint further provides details of the previous controversial speeches delivered by Choudhary wherein he has threatened violence and overtly disregarded the values and ethics promoted by India’s Constitution. The complaint states: “For a public leader, certain ethical standards are set, which might be higher than the ones in place for a common person, as per which they are evaluated. And yet, Choudhary has refused to abide by these standards and the values promotes by India’s Constitution and has indulged in violent and controversial speeches.”
The complaint has prayed that the ECI takes cognisance of this serious violation by BJP leader Shubhkaran Choudhary and that strict action is taken against him. CJP also demanded that the ECI, apart from issuing a notice to this individual candidate, also issues a notice to the state and national party in chief of the BJP as this conduct of one of its own elected representatives puts a responsibility on any party that participates in elections held under the mandate of the Indian Constitution to honour and follow its mandate as laid down in both the Preamble and Fundamental Rights (Chapter III).
The full complaint can be read here: