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Election freebies: Supreme Court refers plea against freebies promised by political parties to 3-judge bench

01:02 PM Aug 26, 2022 IST | India Legal
election freebies  supreme court refers plea against freebies promised by political parties to 3 judge bench

The Supreme Court has today ordered that in view of the complexity of issue, a 3-judge bench shall hear the plea against freebies promised by political parties before elections.

A Bench which was led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) NV Ramana along with Justice Hima Kohli and Justice CT Ravikumar, said that the top court’s 2013 judgment in Subramaniam Balaji v. Govt. of Tamil Nadu needs a reconsideration.

The Court said thatWe direct listing of the case before a three judge bench as formulated by the CJI. This is looking at the complexity of the case and a need to reconsider the Subramaniam Balaji judgment.”


There are certain matters which have been raised by various parties need consideration by the Court like

What is scope of judicial intervention?


Can court pass any enforceable order?


– What should be the composition of the committee?


If the Subramaniam Balaji v. Govt of Tamil Nadu judgment needs reconsideration?

A PIL was filed by the BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking directions to the Central government and the Election Commission for taking steps to ensure regulation of  poll manifestos of political parties and to make all the parties accountable for promises made in such manifestos.


In simple words the plea opposes the system of political parties giving freebies to voters. Many  political parties and leaders have opposed the plea till date.

Putting their views forward the Aam Aadmi Party has named this PIL ‘political interest litigation.’alleging BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

Dr Jaya Thakur of Congress has submitted that it is the duty of the government to uplift weaker sections of the society while framing schemes,and providing subsidies for the same is the duty of ruling parties that run the government.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party representative on television debates said that the Supreme Court should not be hearing the freebies matter which was taken very unfavorably by the Top Court.During the debate on TV, Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan said that there was no Constitutional basis for courts to enter into the domain of economic policy.

On 24th August the Court had said that the case will be listed before a different Bench. During the hearing on the issue, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh had suggested,

‘I was suggesting a retired Supreme Court judge head the committee like Justice Lodha…’

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had his own views and said that a Constitutional body should head the committee to deliberate.

CJI Ramana questioned as to why doesn’t the Government of India form a committee to study this issue?’SG Mehta replied that the Central government will help in every way, and that the committee can submit a report on the issue in three months.

Questioning what can be defined as a freebie, Senior Advocate Arvind Datar, appearing for the Election Commission, asked,

‘If something is there in manifesto, can it be called a freebie? There is enough material available to judge the economic impact of freebies.’

CJI Ramana went on to observe,that those in opposition today can come into power tomorrow and they will have to manage this. So things like freebies etc which can destroy the economy. It has to be looked at and I just cannot pass a mandamus. Thus, there needs to be a debate.’

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