Kerala Kaumudi Online
Thursday, 11 August 2022 1.55 PM IST

Freebies during election: Supreme Court suggests formation of expert body


NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that political parties promising to distribute freebies during election campaigns is a "serious economic issue" and said there is a need for a body to examine the issue.

A bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said there is a need for an apex body, consisting of NITI Aayog, Finance Commission, ruling and opposition parties, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and other stakeholders to make suggestions on how to control freebies by political parties.

"All stakeholders who want the freebies and who are opposing it, including RBI, NITI Aayog, opposition parties have to be involved in this process of making some constructive suggestion," the bench said.

It asked the Centre, 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 how to regulate freebies and give a report to it.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Central government supported the petition against promises of freebies by political parties and said this way we are heading towards economic disaster.

"These populist promises have an adverse effect on voters. This is how we head towards economic disasters," Mehta said.

Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that every political party benefits from the freebies and he did not want to name one.

"Everybody feels the money paid as taxes is not paid for the purposes of developments etc. and thus everyone should use an independent forum and court should not be that forum. Every political party benefits from the freebies I don't want to name one," CJI Ramana said.

The apex court was hearing a plea seeking direction to seize election symbols and deregister political parties that promised to distribute irrational freebies from public funds.

Last week it asked the Central government to take a stand on the need to control the issue of political parties promising to distribute irrational freebies from public funds during elections campaigns.

It had asked the Centre to consider whether the suggestions of the Finance Commission can be sought for a solution.

The CJI had also sought the opinion of senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was present in court for some other matter, on freebies by political parties.

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