The Supreme Court on Tuesday rapped the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) during a hearing on the freebies issue. The DMK has approached the SC in support of freebies, opposing the petition filed by former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against the giveaways and election promises.

The court was irked over the remarks made by Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan. As senior advocate P Wilson representing the DMK sought to make submissions, CJI N V Ramana, according to LiveLaw, said: “Mr Wilson, the party you represent, I have a lot of things to say. Don’t think you are the only wise party. Don’t think we are ignoring all that is being said.”

Rajan had questioned the Centre’s stance, asking “on what basis” should state governments change their policy.

The Supreme Court said a debate on the matter was needed for the welfare of the country and that there was a need to differentiate between a promise made by a politician as a ‘freebie’ and a ‘welfare scheme’. The court said that it was thinking of the formation of a commission on the issue of freebies and has posted the matter for hearing on August 24.

Seeking intervention in the issue, the DMK, in its plea, argued that the scope of freebies is “very wide”. “…the scope of a “freebie” is very wide and there are a lot of aspects which are to be considered. Only a welfare scheme introduced by a State Government cannot be judged to be classified as a freebie. The ruling government at the Union giving tax holidays to foreign companies, waiver of bad loans of influential industrialists, granting crucial contracts to favoured conglomerates etc. also have to be considered and cannot be left untouched,” the DMK said, hitting out at the Centre.

It was further argued by the south India-based political party that a welfare scheme providing a free service is introduced with an intent to secure social order and economic justice to minimise the inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities and in no imaginable reality, it could be construed as a “freebie”.View Survey

The Supreme Court had on August 17 said that it cannot prevent political parties from making promises. “We cannot prevent political parties from making promises. The question is what are right promises and what qualifies as a freebie. Can we describe the promise of free education, some essential units of power as freebies? There has to be debate and discussion,” the CJI had said.

The CJI added that promises alone were not the basis for parties winning elections. “Can access to drinking water and electricity be called a freebie? There are schemes are MNREGA that give the dignity of living. I don’t think promises alone are not the basis of parties being elected solely. Some make promises and even then they are not elected,” the CJI had said.

The Centre told the Supreme Court last week that the “distribution of freebies inevitably leads to future economic disaster”.

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