The Supreme Court asked why the Center is not calling an all-party meeting regarding the election campaign announcement of the distribution of free facilities. BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay has filed a Public Interest Litigation seeking an end to promises of free goods or services by political parties. The bench of Chief Justice N. V. Ramana asked this question in his hearing the day before yesterday.
Realizing the complexity of the matter, the Supreme Court said in the last hearing that it is necessary to discuss this matter. Therefore, the court recommended the formation of an expert group with various stakeholders like the government, opposition, NITI Aayog, Finance Commission, Law Commission, Election Commission, and Reserve Bank. The day before yesterday, the Chief Justice said that there is a need for a debate on this issue. He said, “The biggest problem is, who will lead the committee? In the end, it is the political parties who make promises and fight for votes. Suppose if I fight for the polls, I won’t even get ten votes. Because the person is not that important. Such is democracy in this country.”
Comment of Chief Justice
According to the Chief Justice, whoever is in opposition today can come to power tomorrow. So, they have to come forward and handle these things. Things like giving away free benefits that can destroy the economy need to be looked at. So, he (Chief Justice) cannot just issue directions. This needs to be debated. Petitioner’s lawyer Vikas Singh said that a former Supreme Court judge like former Chief Justice R M Lodha should be made the chairman of the expert committee.
Hearing that, the Chief Justice said in a light tone, “Whoever has retired or is about to retire, has no value in this country.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, on behalf of the Centre, said parties who may not be in power, also promise to influence voters unfairly. Mehta said, “Suppose someone says, I won’t take money for electricity. I don’t know where the money will come from. Electricity is just an example. Will the voter get an environment where he can make an informed decision? Can you promise to fly to the moon to win elections?”
At this time, the Chief Justice asked why the government is not calling an all-party meeting. Mehta said that political parties have already gone to court against the rush to provide free facilities. The all-party meeting may not be fruitful in this climate. He said, “Some political parties think that free benefits are their fundamental right. That’s how they came to power.”
The stance of AAP’s lawyer
Aam Aadmi Party lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi contradicted the Solicitor General’s comments saying, “When the common man got the right to vote in 1947, the literacy rate in this country was about 12 percent.” Lawyer Kapil Sibal said that the political parties can’t know the financial condition of the state if they do not come to power.