Last update: August 03, 2022, 21:39 IST
The Supreme Court will continue hearing on Thursday. (Representative photo/News 18 file)
The bench on Wednesday asked all stakeholders, including the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission and RBI, to look into the issue of giving freebies during elections and come up with constructive suggestions to tackle it.
“Distribution of freebies inevitably leads to future economic disaster,” the Center told the Supreme Court on Wednesday, which filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the practice of political parties promising handouts during elections. supported
The central government’s fresh stand before the bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana is significant as it had earlier said that the free issue needs to be taken up by the Election Commission.
However, the election panel had put the onus on the government during the July 26 hearing.
The bench on Wednesday asked all stakeholders, including the Centre, NITI Aayog, Finance Commission and RBI, to look into the issue of freebies promised during elections and come up with constructive suggestions to address it.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government supported the PIL.
Here’s what you need to know about PIL and how the issue ended:
- January 22: A PIL was filed in the Supreme Court on Saturday claiming that the promise or distribution of unreasonable freebies from public funds ahead of elections can unduly influence voters, undermining free and fair elections. Can, and can disrupt the level playing field in addition to spoiling cleanliness. of the electoral process.
- what he said: The petition was filed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, stating that such decisions by political parties are against Articles 14, 162, 266 (3) and 282 of the Constitution. Violating.
It sought a direction to the Election Commission to confiscate election symbols and deregister political parties that had promised unreasonable free distribution of public funds. The petition claimed that arbitrary promises or undue influence by political parties to lure unreasonable muftis and voters in their favor amounts to bribery and undue influence.
The injury to citizens is huge as Punjab needs Rs 12,000 crore every month to fulfill political promises if AAP comes to power. 25,000 crore per month when SAD came to power and Rs 30,000 crore when Congress came to power, though GST collection is only Rs 1,400 crore, he pointed out.
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In fact, if the Punjab government is not able to pay even salary and pension after paying the debt, then how will it give free? The bitter truth is that Punjab’s debt is increasing every year. The state’s outstanding debt has risen to Rs 77,000 crore, with an accrual of Rs 30,000 crore in the current fiscal year alone. The petitioner said that the time is not far when one party will say “we will cook for you at your residence” and the other will say “we will not only cook but also feed you”. ‘ As each side tried. Outdo each other in terms of populist promises.
- January 25: The Supreme Court issued a notice seeking a direction to the Election Commission (EC) to frame guidelines to prevent political parties from promising or disbursing “unreasonable freebies from public funds”.
- January-March: During its campaign for the upcoming assembly elections, the BJP accused the Congress of “spending on freebies” to get votes instead of empowering the people of India over the past 70 years. The party’s national president JP Nadda said the Narendra Modi-led government has meanwhile helped people become “self-reliant” and empowered them through initiatives such as the Ujjala Yojana and Ayushman Bharat. AAP also promised free electricity in Punjab.
- April 9: The Election Commission (EC) told the Supreme Court that offering freebies before or after elections is a policy decision of a political party, and cannot regulate state policies and decisions taken by parties.
In an affidavit, the EC said: “Offering/distribution of any freebie before or after elections is a policy decision of the party concerned and whether such policies are financially viable or have an adverse effect on the economic health of the state.” That’s a question that the voters of the state will have to consider and decide.
“The Election Commission cannot regulate state policies and decisions that the winning party may take while forming the government. Such action without enabling provisions in law would be an overreach of powers.”
The EC clarified that it does not have the power to register a political party, except on three grounds, as outlined by the Supreme Court in the case of Indian National Congress v. Institute of Social Welfare and others (2002).
The grounds are – registration obtained on the basis of fraud and forgery, the party has lost faith and loyalty to the Constitution, and any other grounds.
- July: Replicating the “Delhi model”, the AAP-led Punjab government this month began distributing 300 units of free electricity to everyone, its election promise, despite dwindling revenues and a widening deficit.
- July 3: Kejriwal visited Gujarat, where he held a town hall on the issue of free electricity in Ahmedabad. While interacting with people, he then said that free electricity is possible in Gujarat and he will soon visit the state with a formula on how his party can provide it if it comes to power. Presenting the “Delhi Model”, he said that free electricity is possible in Gujarat if corruption is eradicated. AAP has made free electricity a key electoral plank in Gujarat, where elections are due in December.
- July 16: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday warned against the “revival culture” of giving people freebies to vote, saying it was “very dangerous” for the country’s development. The Prime Minister used ‘rewadi’, a popular North Indian sweet often distributed during festivals, as a metaphor for the free promises made by various parties to capture power and said that people It should be avoided, especially by the youth.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal launched a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for warning people against giving freebies to win votes, saying his government’s schemes for free education, healthcare and electricity ” are not “free” but attempts to lay the groundwork for it. India is the number one country in the world.
- July 20: BJP’s Gujarat unit chief CR Patil warned people not to be misled by the “rewadi culture” of freebies as it could eventually turn the state and India into Sri Lanka, which is currently going through a severe economic crisis. Is.
- August 8: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government supported the PIL. Such public promises have a strong negative impact on voters. Not only does such free distribution inevitably lead to future economic disaster, but voters cannot exercise their right to choose as an informed, wise decision, the government’s law officer said.
Mehta said that a common man accepting such mufti would never understand that his right pocket is getting something which will later be taken away from his left pocket. He said that the polling panel should stop the freebie culture not only to protect democracy but also to protect the economic survival of the country.
However, the counsel for the polling panel said that the Supreme Court judgments bind it and therefore it cannot act on the free issue. The Solicitor General opposed the suggestion of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was asked by the bench to assist him during the hearing, that the poll panel be kept out of the exercise.
The law officer said that he would not want to undermine the sanctity of the Election Commission as a constitutional body.
The Supreme Court has listed the PIL for further hearing on Thursday.
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