‘Serious economic issue’: how the Supreme Court wants to regulate the politics of freebies

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The Supreme Court called the free polls promised by political parties a “serious economic matter,” the Supreme Court said on Wednesday that an agency was needed to look into it.

A bank headed by Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana, also comprising Judges Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli, said there is a need for a top body, comprising NITI Aayog, the finance committee, ruling and opposition parties, Reserve Bank of India (RBI ), and other stakeholders to make suggestions for controlling freebies by political parties.

“All stakeholders who want and oppose the freebies, including RBI, NITI Aayog and opposition parties, should be involved in this process to make a constructive suggestion,” the bank said.

It has asked the Centre, the Election Commission, Senior Advocate and Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal, and petitioners to submit their suggestions within seven days on the composition of an expert body that will examine and report on how to regulate freebies. .

Appearing before the central government, Attorney General Tushar Mehta supported the petition against promises of freebies by political parties and said that this way we are heading for an economic disaster.

“These populist promises are having a negative effect on voters. This is how we are headed for economic disaster,” Mehta said.

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Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that every political party benefits from the freebies and he didn’t want any. “Everyone thinks that the money paid when taxes are not paid for developments etc. and therefore everyone should use an independent forum and the court should not be that forum. Every political party benefits from the free stuff I don’t want to mention said CJI Ramana.

The highest court heard a plea for leadership to confiscate election symbols and write out political parties that promised to hand out irrational freebies from public funds. Last week, it asked the central government to take a stance on the need to control the issue of political parties promising to distribute irrational freebies from public funds during election campaigns.

It had asked the Center to consider whether the proposals of the Finance Committee could be sought for a solution. The CJI had also taken the advice of senior lawyer Kapil Sibal, who was in court on another matter, about freebies from political parties.

“It’s a serious matter, but difficult to control politically. When the finance commission makes allocations to different states, they can take into account the national debt and the amount of freebies. The finance commission is the right authority to deal with it. Maybe we can invite the Commission to investigate this aspect. The center cannot be expected to give instructions,” Sibal had said.

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India’s Election Commission (ECI) had told the highest court that previous rulings had ruled that a manifesto was part of a political party’s pledges and suggested that the central government could enact a law to address the issue.

The highest court had noted that promising free gifts is a serious issue that can affect the electorate and affect the fairness of polls. Attorney Ashwini Upadhyay had argued while filing the plea that the political parties’ arbitrary promises or irrational freebies for ill-gotten gains and to lure voters in their favor are analogous to bribery and undue influence.

It argued that promising or distributing irrational freebies from public funds before elections could improperly influence voters, shake the roots of a free and fair election, and disrupt the level playing field, in addition to tarnishing the purity of the vote. election process.

“Directly and declare that the promise/distribution of irrational freebies from the public fund before the election to lure voters is analogous to the bribery and undue influence under Section 171B and Section 171C of the IPC,” the plea read.

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The petition stated that unfortunately freebies have nothing to do with job creation, development or agriculture and that voters are enticed by magical promises to vote in their favor. It has become fashionable for political parties to announce free electricity in their election manifesto, even though the state has been unable to provide electricity for more than 16 hours and a large population does not even have access to electricity, which has been recognized as a fundamental right, he added. the petition to it.

“Political parties announce in manifesto an unemployment benefit, which makes young people lazy and dampens the work culture of the people. Instead of giving unemployment benefits, the executive branch should provide quality education so that young people can create jobs themselves. In this process, fair taxpayers Petitioner argues that the health care infrastructure is not good as seen during the Covid times, but political parties do not know this,” the plea said.