CHENNAI: The ruling DMK, through its organising secretary RS Bharathi, has filed an application before the Supreme Court seeking to implead itself in the case against freebies. As per the impleadment petition, the party wants the court to consider the issues of Centre’s tax holidays offered to foreign companies, waiver of bad loans of influential industrialists, and granting crucial contracts to favoured conglomerates while deciding the case against freebies.
It said the issues raised in the case are of great public importance and have pan-India ramification as different schemes have been promulgated targeting different population demographics under freebies. Saying that a straitjacket formula cannot be applied to decide what scheme could be termed as a freebie, the petition said since Schedule VII of the Constitution distributes different subject matters to the Centre and States, which are empowered to promulgate welfare schemes on matters relating to concurrent and State lists, the term freebies cannot be interpreted in a way that interferes with the State’s competence under Schedule VII.
Submitting that a welfare scheme providing a free service is introduced to secure social order and economic justice under Article 38 to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities, the party said, “Such schemes have been introduced in order to provide basic necessities which the poor households cannot afford. They cannot be imputed to be luxuries.”
Schemes such as free electricity can have a multi-dimensional effect on a poor household. Electricity can provide lighting, heating and cooling resulting in better standard of living. It can facilitate a child in education and studies. “A welfare scheme can have a wider reach and multiple intentions behind its introduction,” the petition said.
‘Petition blames political parties in power in states’
The cascading effect arising from it cannot be defined in a restrictive meaning as a freebie,” the petition said. Pointing out that the scope of a freebie is very wide and there are a lot of aspects which have to be considered, the petition said welfare scheme of a State government alone cannot be classified as a freebie.
Since welfare schemes are policy matters of government that are barred from judicial review, the petition pointed out that the apex court had, in a case, held that it will not interfere unless the policy or action is inconsistent with the Constitution and the laws are arbitrary or irrational or abuse of power.
The Centre and the Election Commission of India have been made respondents in the case against freebies. The Centre is not the stakeholder because the petition blames those political parties which are in power in the States. Therefore, it is imperative for the petitioner to implead such parties as respondents.
Since the issues raised are of great public importance, any order of the court can have ‘cascading effect’ and affect ‘governance’ at grassroots level. Hence, DMK shall be impleaded in the case so that necessary assistance may be given to the court on the issue, the petition said. In Tamil Nadu, DMK has introduced various welfare schemes, including rice at `1/kg and free bus passes to women.
Congress: Freebie culture means writing off bank loans, not providing food to economically weaker sections.
AAP: Giving free, quality service to people is not free revdi. Free revdi includes giving undue benefits to some corporates and ministers.
TRS: Centre insulting welfare schemes provided to poor by branding them as freebies.
YSR Congress: Schemes doled out by States are ‘social investment.’ Bhagwant Mann: My government will spend money on people as it belongs to them.