ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Assault on Democracy

The onslaught against freebies is yet another attempt to disempower the poor.

Last month, speaking at a public function, the Prime Minister made a vociferous attack on the so-called freebie culture. He especially targeted the culture of collecting votes by distributing freebies. The idea is to enlist the electoral support of the people by distributing freebies, he claimed. Demanding that this approach be defeated, he argued that “people who dis­tribute freebies will never build expressways, airports or defence corridors to spur growth.”

The Prime Minister’s diatribe against freebies coincided with judicial interventions to curb political parties from making promises that provide welfare gains to the poor and the disempowered. Following a recent public interest litigation petition against irrational freebies, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India (CJI) had proposed a broad-based expert committee to look at the problem of freebies. The idea, according to the CJI, was to commission a study as a backgrounder to debate a law on freebies. However, the Court cautioned against confusing the idea of freebies with welfare measures and held that their concern was that freebies would bleed the country and burden the taxpayers. While most political parties strongly objected to the proposal, the solicitor general, who appeared on behalf of the union government, pleaded that the Court cannot remain a mute spectator to, for example, promises of free saris, televisions, water, and electricity.

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Updated On : 10th Sep, 2022
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