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Supreme Court Issues Notice on Plea Against Pre-Election Freebies in Rajasthan and MP

By LAWSTREET NEWS NETWORK      07 October, 2023 03:48 PM      0 Comments
Supreme Court Issues Notice on Plea Against Pre Election Freebies in Rajasthan and MP

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Friday issued notice on a plea challenging cash benefit offers being made by the political parties as "freebies" in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh just ahead of Assembly elections.

A bench of Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud and Justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said that before elections, all kinds of promises are made, which is difficult to be controlled.

The petitioner’s counsel contended that it is not just a promise rather its net worth is negative, and they mortgaged the forest land.

The bench told the counsel that the petitioner should have gone to the concerned high court.

“Why do you come here? The high court is not available," the bench asked.

The counsel then said there are two states, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan involved in the matter here.

He also submitted a line has to be drawn between what is public interest and what is not. The counsel further contended that nothing is more atrocious than allowing the government to distribute cash. A few months before elections these things have started and the tax paying citizen has to bear the burden, he said.

"Before elections all kinds of promises are made, we cannot control this," the bench said.

However, upon hearing submissions, the bench said it would tag with the instant plea with a similar PIL filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which sought a direction to outlaw “freebies” announced for voters by political parties.

The top court asked the petitioner’s counsel to implead Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and delete the chief minister's office, and instead make the state of Rajasthan a party in the matter.

The top court issued notice to the Centre, Election Commission of India, states of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

The court sought a response within four weeks on the petition filed by one Bhattulal Jain.

The petitioner sought a direction  not to misuse consolidated fund or grant on the name of the public purposes, under Article 266(3), 282 of the Constitution, at the verge of election.

His plea also sought a declaration that the promise of distribution of irrational freebies from the public fund before election to lure voters is analogous to the bribery and undue influence under Section 171-B and Section 171-C of the IPC.

It also pleaded for framing the comprehensive guidelines on such announcements before the elections.

"No government can declare free electricity, free water, free distribution or loan waiver without the approval of legislative assembly, irrespective of which government is ruling. Since the money belongs to our taxpayers, the taxpayers should have the right to monitor its use. Political parties keep on wooing the public by offering freebies for votes. Whatever projects are announced, the government should first submit their blueprint and get approval from legislative assembly," the plea said.

"This should also apply to the salaries of MPs and MLAs and other non-legislative benefits received by them. Is democracy limited only to charity? What rights do public have as tax payers after that? Taxpayers should have the right to hold MPs, MLAS accountable and initiate disciplinary action against them for obstructing the work of legislative assembly," it added.

Notably on August 26, 2022, the top court had decided to examine the PIL by Upadhyay.

"Freebies may create a situation wherein the State Government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the State is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy. In the same breath, we should remember that such freebies are extended utilizing tax payers money only for increasing the popularity of the party and electoral prospects," the bench had said.
 



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