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Ban on FREEBIES and 'Revadi' culture? Supreme Court to decide today

During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court made a strong observation on the culture of political parties announcing ''freebies'' during the election season to lure voters and said that it is causing a ''big loss to the country's economy.''

  • SC will hear a plea seeking a ban on freebies
  • The top court has said that a three-judge bench hear the plea now
  • The SC is hearing the plea filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, seeking a ban on '‘freebies’ to lure voters in the run-up to elections

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Ban on FREEBIES and 'Revadi' culture? Supreme Court to decide today

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court will on Friday decide on a plea seeking a ban on the announcement of freebies by the political parties during the elections to woo voters. The decision comes on a day when Chief Justice of India NV Ramana is set to demit his office after 16-month-long tenure today. The Supreme Court had on Thursday decided to call off the formation of an expert committee to look into freebies offered by political parties to voters.

The top court said that a new three-judge bench would take up pleas to review a 2013 Supreme Court judgment that said some freebies were related to the directive principles guiding a state’s policies. Hearing a plea seeking a ban on the ‘freebie culture’ during elections, the Supreme Court had on Tuesday said a debate on the matter was needed for the welfare of the country. 

Responding to the plea, Chief Justice of India N V Ramana highlighted the need to differentiate between a promise made by a politician as a ‘freebie’ and a ‘welfare scheme’. The Chief Justice asked if a law rolled out by the Centre prohibiting ‘freebies’ would be open to judicial scrutiny. “Suppose the Centre makes a law that states cannot give freebies. Will such a law be open for judicial scrutiny?” he observed.

During the hearing, the top court also took exception to remarks made by Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan. CJI Ramana told DMK MP and Senior Advocate P Wilson, “I want to say so many things, but I don’t want to, being a Chief Justice, talk about your party or minister.”

During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court made a strong observation on the culture of political parties announcing ''freebies'' during the election season to lure voters and said that it is causing a ''big loss to the country's economy.'' The top court said that the announcement and distribution of freebies by political parties is “a serious issue” and this culture needs to stop. While calling for a balance between people's welfare schemes and freebies, the top court stressed that the entire amount should be spent on developing the infrastructure.

The Supreme Court made these observations while hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, seeking a ban on political parties promising ‘freebies’ to lure voters in the run-up to elections. The plea asked for steps to be taken to regulate poll manifesto and make political parties accountable for promises made therein.

“Nobody says it is not an issue. It is a serious issue. Those who are getting they want it and ours is a welfare state. Some may say that they are paying taxes and it has to be used for the developmental process. So it's a serious issue. So both side has to be heard by the committee,” Chief Justice of India NV Ramana.
 
The CJI further noted that India is a country “where there is poverty and the central government also has plans to feed the hungry” and then posted the matter for the next hearing on August 17.

Here's what the Centre says about freebies

Arguing on behalf of the Central Government, the Solicitor General said that if such freebies continue to be announced, then this will lead the country towards economic destruction. The Solicitor General said that till the time the government brings a law regarding this, the court can intervene and make guidelines for freebies.

EC refuses to be part of SC panel on freebies 

The Election Commission, being a constitutional authority, has earlier declined to be part any government body to deliberate n freebies but it welcomed the Supreme Court's suggestion of setting up an expert panel to brainstorm over the issue of freebies.

Freebies preventing India from becoming self-reliant: PM
 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi has earlier said that ''selfish announcements of freebies'' will prevent the country from becoming self-reliant, increase the burden on honest taxpayers and prevent investment in new technologies. The PM made these remarks while inaugurating the second generation (2G) ethanol plant in Panipat via video conferencing on World Biofuel Day on Wednesday. He said that the facility will be able to dispose of the stubble without burning it. 

"Selfish announcements of freebies will prevent the country from becoming self-reliant, increase the burden on honest taxpayers and prevent investment in new technologies," he added. The Prime Minister also said that in the next few years, more than 75 per cent of the households in the country will get piped gas.

The Prime Minister said that if there is selfishness in politics, then anyone can come and announce to give free petrol and diesel. Such steps will take away the rights of children, and prevent the country from becoming self-reliant. Due to such selfish policies, the burden on honest taxpayers of the country will also increase, the PM remarked. To deal with the challenges that the country is facing, it needs clear intentions, extreme hard work, policy and huge investments.