Supreme Court asks Centre, NITI Aayog and others to consider ‘serious issue’ of mufti during polls

The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked stakeholders like the Centre, NITI Aayog, Finance Commission and RBI to look into the “serious” issue of freebies announced during the elections and come up with constructive suggestions to address it. , saying that no political party would oppose such handouts. Or prefer to debate it in Parliament.

A bench comprising Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Marari and Hema Kohli indicated setting up a mechanism to suggest measures to the government to deal with the issue. The Election Commission and the government cannot say that we cannot do anything about it. The bench said it has to consider the issue and make recommendations.

The Center supported the PIL through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and said, “Distribution of freebies inevitably leads to future economic disaster and voters cannot exercise their right to choose as an informed, wise decision. “

The Supreme Court listed lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay’s PIL for further hearing on Thursday, saying all stakeholders should think over it and give suggestions so that it can constitute a body to resolve the issue.

“We are of the considered opinion that all stakeholders, beneficiaries… and government and organizations like Niti Aayog, Finance Commission, RBI and opposition parties should be involved in the process of thinking through these issues and making some constructive suggestions. There should be. We direct all the parties to submit proposals for the constitution of such a body to enable us to pass an order for the constitution of the body to submit proposals,” the bench said. said in his order.

The PIL opposes the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections and demands the Election Commission to get powers to freeze their election symbols and cancel their registration. During the hearing, the bench said that none of the political parties would want to discuss it in Parliament as everyone wanted the process to continue, while senior advocate Kapil Sibal said that the Finance Commission was best placed to deal with this aspect. It is equipped.

“Mr. Sibal, do you think there will be a debate in Parliament? Which political party will debate? No political party will oppose free. The CJI said that nowadays everyone wants free. Initially, Sr. Advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Upadhyay, said political parties should take into account the public debt of a state that promises to be free, and urged the bench to make the Reserve Bank of India a party to the petition.

“If you’re making a promise … there’s a certain amount of money, where are you going to get it from? … You have to show where the money is going to come from. You have to see whose pocket it goes to,” Sr. The lawyer said. After the bench said the Election Commission had refused to do anything about it, the Solicitor General suggested that the poll panel could be asked to reconsider its stand.

When told about the issue of implementation of model code for elections, the bench said, these are all empty formalities. When does the Model Code of Conduct come into effect? Just before the elections. Four years you do something and then finally you add a model code of conduct…. Earlier on July 26, the bench had termed as “serious” the promise of “unreasonable liberties” made by political parties during the elections and wondered why the Center was reluctant to take a stand on the issue. Hesitating.

Why don’t you say that you have nothing to do with it and call the Election Commission. I am asking whether the Government of India is considering this as a serious problem or not. “Why are you hesitating to take a stand? You take a stand then we will decide whether to continue these muftis or not. You file a detailed counter (affidavit),” the bench said. The Supreme Court on 25 In January, it had sought a response from the Center and the Election Commission on a PIL seeking a direction to confiscate election symbols or register any political party that promises “unreasonable freebies” or distribution before elections. does, saying it’s a “serious problem.” Sometimes the freebie budget is going beyond the regular budget.

The petition, filed ahead of assembly elections in five states including Punjab, said such populist initiatives to gain illegitimate political support from voters should be banned as they violate the Constitution, and the EC Appropriate preventive measures should be taken. While issuing the notice, the bench noted the submissions of senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for Upadhyay, that a law needs to be framed and steps taken for seizure of party symbols or cancellation of registration of parties or both. need to go Citizens have to pay.

The petition asked the court to declare that the pre-election promise of free public funds unduly influences voters, disturbs the level playing field and undermines the integrity of the electoral process. . “The petitioner stated that the recent trend of political parties to influence voters by monitoring elections is not only the biggest threat to the survival of democratic values ​​but also undermines the spirit of the Constitution,” the petition said. “

This unethical practice is just like bribing voters at the cost of public exchequer to stay in power and should be avoided to uphold democratic norms and practices.

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