New Delhi: The Centre on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that freebies promised by political parties before polls is an “economic disaster”. The apex court suggested an expert body comprising representatives of Niti Ayog, Finance Commission, RBI, political parties and other stakeholders, should examine the pros and cons of freebies, while acknowledging that it is a serious issue.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Central government, said the populist announcements distort the informed decision making of the voter and a voter would know what’s going to fall on him.
Mehta said, “This is the way, we are heading towards economic disaster”. Mehta suggested that the Election Commission of India (ECI) should apply its mind on the matter, and they can have a relook. The ECI’s counsel said that its hands were tied by a judgment of the apex court on freebies.
A counsel, involved in the matter, suggested if there’s a model manifesto where they say that there’s no harm, and if the political parties declare the debt of the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana said these are all empty formalities. Mehta reiterated, “We are heading towards economic disaster”.
The Chief Justice said this is a serious issue and the ECI and the Central government cannot say that they cannot do anything in the matter. He said the government and the ECI have to consider the issue and give suggestions. The Chief Justice sought suggestions from senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who was present in the courtroom for another matter.
Sibal suggested that ECI should be kept out of the matter, as it is a political and economic issue, and there should be debate in Parliament on it.