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Can’t count all freebies as welfare schemes: SC

13/08/2022 at 6:13 PM

Supreme Court TV anchors hate speech

New Delhi, Aug 13:  In a significant ruling, a bench led by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana said that all freebies offered by the political parties can’t be counted as welfare schemes.

A distinction between welfare measures and freebies should be drawn when the tax payers keep questioning governments over lack of essential facilities, even as freebies are offered as poll promises.

While stating that it would not entertain pleas to deregister parties offering freebies, the bench expressed its concern on an issue that has become the latest bone of contention between the Union government and the states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has repeatedly spoken of the malaise of freebies in recent weeks, and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and Tamil Nadu finance minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan have weighed in on it from the other side. The plea in the apex court itself was filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member.

“The impact is very much. The economy getting ruined on the one hand and people getting benefits from the welfare schemes, on the other hand both have to be balanced with care as it’s a very important aspect to be analysed. There are people who are supporting such measures saying it’s a welfare state. People who are paying taxes complain why their money is not spent on roads and electricity. This is a serious issue and it has to be discussed,” remarked the bench, which also included Justice Krishna Murari.

At this juncture, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has filed an application to oppose the judicial proceedings on freebies, submitted that the issue is beyond judicially manageable standards and therefore, the top court must leave it to the wisdom of the elected governments and the voters to decide.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing AAP, pleaded, “No doubt, the issues are important. But every issue that is important cannot be susceptible to judicially manageable standards. The court should not even embark on a journey to set up a committee which will not lead anywhere.”

But the submission failed to cut ice with the bench. “Don’t you agree there has to be a distinction between freebies and welfare measures? We are being very cautious. But you cannot say ‘don’t examine the issue at all’. Ultimately in this country, its effect on the public and on the economy requires some debate. We cannot say ‘don’t do this’,” it told Singhvi.

The AAP, which has filed a petition opposing the judicial proceedings on freebies, submitted that the issue is beyond judicially manageable standards and therefore, the top court must leave it to the wisdom of the elected governments and the voters to work out on it.

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