Thu, 11 Aug 2022 02:41 PM IST
Amid the buzz over the freebies offered by political parties and continuous demeaning of the practice by the prime minister, the Supreme Court on Thursday clarified that while it will examine the issue but won't enter into the prayer to deregister political parties for the same as it is an undemocratic practice.
A bench comprising CJI NV Ramana and Justice Krishna Murari observed that entertaining these types of requests to deregister political parties will go against the democratic principles of a nation and cannot be permitted. "I do not want to enter the area of de registering political party etc as its an undemocratic arena. We are a democracy after all," CJI Ramana remarked, as reported by Bar and Bench.
The observations by the top court came during a hearing of PIL by BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking directions to the Election Commission and the Central government to regulate the poll manifestos of political parties and hold them accountable for promises made in such manifestos offering free things to the voters.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, argued that the Supreme Court should step in and lay down regulations until the legislature comes up with a law in this regard.
"We (Centre) are proposing a committee - Beneficiaries, Secretary Central government, Secretaries of State governments, representatives of each political party, representative of Niti Aayog, RBI, Finance Commission, National Tax Payers Association, one who supports freebies, industry and stressed sectors," the SG said, as reported by Bar and Bench.
Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal said that the case involves a complicated issue which can be decided only based on solid data. "It is a complicated issue to be heard like this. There needs to be data before you. I have an employee who works and yesterday she had no money to travel by metro. I gave her money and then she told me she takes a free bus. It is free for women. Is it a freebie?" Sibal asked.
CJI Ramana then recalled an incident and narrated how freebies can also lead to illegalities being legalised. He also said that loss of money to the exchequer and the welfare of the people have to be balanced. The case will be considered again on August 17.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Election Commission told the Supreme Court that it welcomed the suggestion of setting up an expert panel to brainstorm the issue of freebies announced during elections, but it being a “constitutional authority,” be not made part of it which may have some government bodies.
The poll panel also referred to the reported strong oral observations of the top court against it during the last hearing on the PIL on the issue, saying they have “caused irreparable damage to the reputation of this institution built over the years”.
The PIL opposes the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections and seeks the Election Commission to invoke its powers to freeze their election symbols and cancel their registration.
The Supreme Court on August 3 had asked stakeholders like the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission, and the RBI, to brainstorm on the "serious" issue of freebies and put forth “constructive suggestions” to tackle it. It also rapped the poll panel by saying that this situation had arisen since the poll body did not take a stand.
(With Agency Inputs)