AAP opposes PIL against freebies in SC, says petitioner furthering political agenda
The schemes for the socio-economic welfare of the deserving and disadvantaged masses cannot be described as ''freebies'', the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has submitted before the Supreme Court while seeking to intervene in a pending petition on the issue.
Opposing the plea filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking action against political parties for promising freebies during elections, AAP said the schemes for the deserving and disadvantaged people cannot be considered handouts.
It alleged that the petitioner ( Upadhyay) is attempting to use the device of public interest litigation 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 applicant respectfully submits that the present Petition is not an instance of non-partisan litigation made in general public interest shorn of any personal or political motives. ''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, while referring vaguely to 'freebies', clearly seeks judicial action against a particular model of economic development by exclusively targeting fiscal expenditure on socialist and welfare measures for the masses.
The top court had on August 3 asked stakeholders like the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission and the RBI, to brainstorm on the ''serious'' issue of freebies announced during elections 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 on it and give suggestions so it could set up a body to address the issue.
It had on January 25 sought replies from the Centre and the Election Commission on the PIL, filed through advocate Ashwani Kumar Dubey, seeking direction to seize the symbol or deregister a political party that promises or distributes ''irrational freebies'' before polls, saying it is a ''serious issue'' as sometimes freebie budget goes beyond a regular budget.
The plea, which was filed ahead of the assembly polls in five states including Punjab, said 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.
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