‘Seek views of Finance Commission on promise of freebies by political parties’
   Date :27-Jul-2022

Finance Commission 
THE Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Central Government to engage with the Finance Commission on the issue of political parties inducing voters through freebies, and examine if there is a possibility to regulate it by taking into account money spent on freebies.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana and comprising Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli told Additional Solicitor General K M Nataraj, representing the Central Government, “please find out from the Finance Commission. Will list this sometime next week...what is the authority to initiate debate...”
During the hearing, Justice Ramana asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was present in the courtroom for some other matter, his views on a PIL questioning freebies announced during polls by political parties. The Chief Justice said: “Mr Sibal is here as a senior parliamentarian. What is your view?”
Sibal replied that freebies are a serious matter but it is difficult to control politically and the Finance Commission, while making allocations to various States, should take this into account -- debt of States and then freebies. “Centre cannot be expected to issue directions,” Sibal said, adding that the Finance Commission is the appropriate authority to examine this issue. The bench said: “We direct the Government of India to get instructions in this matter...”
The Election Commission of India counsel submitted that it was held in previous judgements that a manifesto was part of the promises of a political party. The bench replied, “We are on freebies to bribe the electorate. Now if you say it’s hands off for you, then what is the purpose of the Election Commission of India?” The ECI counsel suggested that the Central Government could bring a law to deal with the issue, however Nataraj suggested that it falls under the domain of the ECI.
The top court was hearing a PIL by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against the announcements made by political parties for inducing voters, through freebies.