The Supreme Court on Wednesday said it cannot stop political parties from making promises and it is necessary to define what a “freebie” is.
“Can universal healthcare, access to drinking water, and access to consumer electronics be considered free?” The Bar and the Bench pointed out that a bench headed by Chief Justice of India NV Ramana asked. The top court was hearing a plea by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, seeking to restrain political parties from promising freebies to voters ahead of elections.
The CJI said that one of the suggestions of respondents states that political parties cannot be stopped from making promises to the voters. “I don’t think promises are the only basis for parties to be elected. Some make promises and still they are not elected,” the CJI said.
The court asked all the concerned parties to present their views and listed the matter for a hearing next Monday (August 22). The CJI said it should be ensured that all the parties to the case are supplied with copies of the applications.
Earlier, the CJI had acknowledged that the impact of freebies promised by political parties on the financial health of the country was “a serious issue”, but said he was not in favour of recognizing any party on it as it would be “democratic”.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded to oppose the ban on freebies. It told the court, “Schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the deserving and disadvantaged masses cannot be described as ‘freebies'”.
On Wednesday, the CJI said, “We cannot stop political parties from making promises. The question is what qualifies as a freebie. Can we describe the promise of free education, some essential units of power as free? There should be debate and discussion.”