Welfare schemes uplift weaker sections, can’t be termed freebies: DMK to SC

Welfare schemes provide uplift of weaker sections and cannot be described as “freebies”, the DMK has told the Supreme Court.

Opposing the plea filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking action against political parties for promising freebies during elections, the DMK said the petition is “politically motivated” as the petitioner belongs to a political party which was locked in a political battle during Punjab elections at the time of filing this PIL.

It alleged the present petition lacks merit and is filed to settle political scores with another rival political party in Punjab.

“The yardstick to be applied for classifying a welfare scheme to be a freebie cannot be so rigid that every service provided by the government to its citizens be termed as a freebie. If such a meaning is applied, it would render all government facilities such as education, healthcare to be freebies, which is unconscionable,” submissions filed by senior advocate P Wilson on behalf of DMK, said.

The DMK said the plea, which is liable to be dismissed, is an assault on the Directive Principles of State Policy and is an attempt to change the fabric of this nation from socialist country to capitalist country.

Also read: Voters would prefer dignified earning through welfare schemes to freebies: SC

It said that no legal order can be issued against the representatives of the people making promises or against a law-making body from making laws to comply with the Part IV of the Constitution.

On Wednesday, the CJI observed that political parties and individuals cannot be prevented from making poll promises aimed at fulfilling the constitutional mandate and the term “freebie” should not be confused with genuine welfare measures.

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.