New Delhi. The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Central Government, Election Commission, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh Government on announcements and schemes like distribution of free Revadi just before the Assembly elections. The court of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud has sought their reply within 4 weeks.
The court has issued this notice while hearing a public interest litigation. The Supreme Court has combined the new PIL with other already ongoing petitions. Now all the cases will be heard together.
In January 2022, BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay had reached the Supreme Court with a PIL against freebies. In his petition, Upadhyay appealed to stop promises of freebies or free gifts by political parties to voters during elections. It has been demanded that the Election Commission should cancel the recognition of such parties. The Central Government agreed with Ashwini and appealed to the Supreme Court to decide the definition of freebies. The Center said that if the distribution of freebies continues, it will lead the country to ‘future economic disaster’.
What has happened in the Supreme Court so far?
The hearing of the freebies case was started by a three-member bench of Justice JK Maheshwari and Justice Hima Kohli led by former Chief Justice of India NV Ramana in August 2022. August 3, 2022: The Supreme Court said that a committee should be formed to decide on the freebies issue. Central, State Governments, NITI Aayog, Finance Commission, Election Commission, RBI, CAG and political parties should be involved in this.
11 August 2022: The Supreme Court said, ‘There is a need to feed the poor, but there is a need to balance the welfare of the people, because the economy is losing money due to freebies. We agree that there is a difference between freebies and welfare. 17 August 2022: The court said, ‘Some people say that political parties cannot be stopped from making promises to voters…Now it has to be decided what is a freebie. Can healthcare for all, drinking water facilities… schemes like MNREGA, which make life better, be considered freebies? The court asked all parties in this case to give their opinion.
23 August 2022: Supreme Court asked the Center why you do not call an all-party meeting? The political parties themselves have to decide everything on this.
26 August 2022: Former CJI NV Ramana referred the case to a new bench. During the hearing he said that a committee can be formed, but will the committee be able to decide its definition correctly. Ramana had also said that this case requires a detailed hearing and it should be taken seriously.
Election Commission had said – You yourself should decide the definition of free schemes.
During the hearing in the Supreme Court on August 11, the Election Commission had said that it is not within the power of the Election Commission to regulate the policy adopted by the parties on freebies. It is a policy decision of political parties to promise freebies before elections or to give them after elections. Taking any action without making rules in this regard would be abusing the powers of the Election Commission. Only the court should decide what are free schemes and what are not. After this we will implement it.
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