In a country like India, passing an order to stop poll freebies would be undemocratic, said the bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana. The observation was made while hearing a petition filed by an advocate from BJP seeking the court to pass a direction to stop poll freebies and upon giving freebies, the Election Commission of India (ECI) should cancel the party recognition.
Other parties including Aam Aadmi Party have filed a petition to squash it. Earlier, the court had directed the ECI to file a report on the issue. “It is undemocratic to cancel the recognition of the party that includes freebies in its election manifestos. So, we will not consider it. We will not order the political parties to stop poll freebies. Directing the parties to do this and not to do that will not work in a country like India,” said Ramana.
He further said that announcing and distributing poll freebies is a matter of serious concern and needs to be discussed as it is different from government welfare schemes. “We will never know the status of a party’s state treasure after the party forms the government in the state. Also, we should not do something just for the sake of doing it. Instead of spending money to give freebies, the parties should invest it for the growth of the state,” he added.
Pointing out that government welfare schemes have saved many lives, he directed the union government to regularize the welfare schemes. The hearing was adjourned to August 17.