MK Stalin's DMK Goes To Top Court, Challenges Definition Of Freebies

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Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK has filed a petition within the Supreme Court within the ongoing case about "freebies", contending that the scope of the term is extremely wide and "there are lots of aspects which require to be considered". The court is hearing a petition that has challenged the promise of freebies at election time, contending that this practice can bring liquidation on a state. So far, Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party, known for providing free power and water within the states it rules, has challenged the stance of the petition, which was filed by the BJP's Ashwini Upadhyay.

Tamil Nadu is one in every of the states where the employment of freebies at election time has been traditional, cutting across party lines. Sometimes, even before the elections, clothes, food and home goods are distributed among the people, in violation of model code.

After elections, successive governments have provided heavy subsidies on food and other items. Opposition AIADMK's late Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was known for her "Amma canteens" where a full meal are often had for some rupees.

Chief Minister MK Stalin's DMK, too, has introduced various welfare schemes for the people of state including rice at Re 1 a kg, free distribution of color television system sets to poor households and free bus passes to women.

In its petition today, DMK argued that a welfare scheme introduced by a government can not 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. even have to be considered and can't be left untouched," the petition read.

"This court cannot have a restrictive approach for classifying any scheme or act by the Union/State Legislature to be a 'freebie' without considering the magnitude of resultant consequences and welfare at both micro and macro level," the DMK contended.

The petition also said that during a welfare scheme, free services are introduced with an intent to secure social order and economic justice under the Constitution's Article 38 "to minimise the inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities".

"In no imaginable reality, it can be construed as a 'freebie'," the petition read.

In one in every of the sooner hearings, the bench led by justice of India NV Ramana, had said provision of freebies were a significant economic issue and therefore the "freebie budget" at election time goes above regular budget.

The Bench had asked the committee to border guidelines within the matter. But the poll panel had responded that within the absence of a law, it cannot regulate promises by political parties to provide out freebies if elected to power.

Arvind Kejriwal's AAP has filed a petition in court, with arguments almost like the DMK.

The schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the deserving and disadvantaged masses can't be described as "freebies", the ruling party of Delhi and Punjab contended in its petition. It also alleged that the petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay was trying to attain a political agenda by legal means.

The Centre has also shown disapproval for the freebie culture and said there should be a correct debate on the problem.