'Welfare Schemes, Not Freebies', Says AAP Opposing The PIL In Supreme Court
AAP not only tried to discredit the petition, but also the petitioner in its submission.
Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has responded to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking action against political parties for promising freebies during elections.
In its submission before the Supreme Court (SC), it said, the schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the deserving and disadvantaged masses cannot be described as 'freebies' or handouts.
AAP not only tried to discredit the petition, but also the petitioner by alleging that lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay is attempting to use the device of PIL to 'camouflage' a thinly veiled attempt at furthering a particular political agenda.
The plea states that the petitioner has not disclosed his present or past ties with a particular ruling party and instead introduced himself generically as a “social-political activist.”
"The petitioner himself has strong links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), having served as its spokesperson and as a leader of its Delhi unit in the past. The petitioner's frivolous petitions instituted in the name of public interest, often inspired by this party's political agenda, have come under this Court's criticism in the past," the plea said.
The party submitted Upadhyay's petition clearly seeks judicial action against a particular model of economic development by exclusively targeting fiscal expenditure on socialist and welfare measures for the masses.
Upadhyay had filed the plea ahead of the assembly polls in five states saying there should be a total ban on such populist measures to gain undue political favour from voters as they violate the Constitution, and the EC should take suitable deterrent measures.
He referred to the recent Punjab assembly election and said the state, which is precariously placed financially, has to bear the burden of the promises. "We are on our way to becoming Sri Lanka," he warned.
SC on 25 January sought replies from the Centre and the Election Commission on the PIL and said it is a 'serious issue' as sometimes the freebie budget goes beyond a regular budget.
The top court had on 3 August asked stakeholders like the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission and the RBI, to brainstorm on the issue of freebies and put forth constructive suggestions to tackle it, saying no political party will oppose such handouts or like to debate it in Parliament.
The court had hinted at ordering setting up a mechanism for suggesting measures to the government to deal with the issue. The apex court had said all stakeholders should think about it and give suggestions so it could set up a body to address the issue.
Taking a clear stand on the issue, the centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said, "The freebies distribution inevitably leads to future economic disaster and the voters also cannot exercise their right to choose as an informed, wise decision.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing an event organised to inaugurate 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway in Uttar Pradesh, cautioned people against what he called as 'revadi culture' of offering freebies for garnering votes, and called it 'very dangerous' for the development of the country.
(With inputs from PTI)
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