SC says freebies can push state into bankruptcy, returns case to 3-judge bench

The Supreme Court noted on Friday that giveaways announced by political parties could push the state toward imminent bankruptcy, as it framed preliminary issues that require further deliberation before concrete orders are passed, and returned the pleas against gifts to a bench of 3 judges.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana and made up of Justices Hima Kohli and CT Ravikumar, said: “Gifts can create a situation where the state government cannot provide basic amenities due to the lack of funds and the state is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy. In the same breath, we must remember that these freebies are extended using taxpayers’ money solely to increase party popularity and electoral prospects.

He stressed that the issues raised by the parties require a full hearing before concrete orders can be passed.

He framed preliminary questions, which may need to be deliberated and resolved in petitions as follows: “What is the scope of judicial intervention with respect to the remedies sought in this set of petitions? Can a binding order be made by this court in these applications? Would the appointment of a commission/body of experts by the court be helpful in this regard? Furthermore, what should be the scope, composition and powers of the said commission/expert body? »

The parties involved in the case also requested a review of the 2013 judgment S. Subramaniam Balaji v. State of Tamil Nadu. In this case, the court held that such promises did not fall within the scope of corrupt practices as specified in section 123 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 and gave instructions to the electoral commission concerning the development of certain guidelines, in the absence of any legislative text covering the field.

The Tribunal de Grande Instance noted that it is also necessary to underline the point raised by some of the speakers, namely that not all promises can be equated with gifts because they relate to social protection schemes or measures of interest. audience. “Not only are these part of the guiding principles of state policy, but they are also the responsibility of the welfare state. At the same time, the concern raised here that under the guise of campaign promises fiscal responsibility is being taken away must also be addressed,” the bench said.

He ordered the examination of the petitions against the gifts announced by the political parties before the polls to incite the voters, in front of a bench of three judges on the background of the complexity of the problems which are related to it.

The court also noted that some of the parties argued that the judgment of S. Subramaniam Balaji wrongly implied that guiding principles of state policy could override fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution. , which is contrary to the law established by a bench of the Constitution of the court. in Minerva Mills Ltd v Union of India (1980).

“Given the complexity of the issues at stake and the request to set aside a judgment rendered by a two-judge bench in the Balaji case, we are directing the entry of these motions before a three-judge bench, after having obtained the orders from the Chief Justice of India. List the case after 4 weeks,” the bench said.

On August 24, the Supreme Court asked the central government why it could not form a committee to examine the impact of gifts promised by political parties to incite voters, and the government may also convene a multi-party meeting to consider the publication .

The Supreme Court order came on petitions by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay and others seeking instructions from the Center and the Election Commission to take action to regulate political party poll manifestos and also opposed to the practice of political parties giving or promising gifts to induce voters during polls. .

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