The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notices to the Centre and the Election Commission on a petition seeking the top court’s intervention to put a stop to the practice of political parties either distributing or promising “irrational freebies” to the electorate in the run-up to any elections.
Such freebies destroy the level playing field between parties as they act as inducements to vote and place additional pressure on the budgets of cash-strapped state governments should the political party be voted to power.
A three-judge bench, led by CJI NV Ramana, while hearing a plea by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay to restrain parties from distributing any such freebies ahead of the polls, cited an earlier court ruling to state that these were not a corrupt practice under electoral laws.
The CJI though agreed that it was a “serious issue” as such freebies could create an uneven playing field between the contesting parties.
The bench, which also comprised Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli, pointed out that the court had asked the EC to frame guidelines, under the model code of conduct, that would have a salutary effect on parties in the fray.
Senior advocate Vikas Singh said that the EC had framed some guidelines but these lacked teeth. Every political party is doing the same thing, he charged. “Whose money is being promised? It is the people’s money. Some states have a (debt) burden of ‘3 lakh per person but freebies were still being offered,” he argued.
CJI Ramana was sceptical whether any court decision on such freebies could come ahead of the elections scheduled for February but agreed to examine the issue given its long-term ramifications. “We want to know how to control this. It’s a serious issue no doubt. The freebie budget is going beyond the regular budget… as observed by SC it’s not a level playing field etc. We had directed the EC to form guidelines… with the limited scope,” the CJI said. The CJI also wanted all political parties to be made parties to the case.
To read and know more news, now you can also follow us on social media – To follow on Twitter, type – @khas_khabar and to read news #khas_khabar live to follow on Facebook You can follow our page @socialkhabarlive