While the political arena is already witnessing a war of words over freebies, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has knocked the doors of the Supreme Court by way of an intervention application.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP through its intervention application filed before the top court in an ongoing matter has claimed that electoral promises such as free water, free electricity are not “freebies” but examples of discharging “constitutional responsibilities of the state” towards creating a more equitable society.
“….it is clear as day that the entire exercise of governance in our constitutional polity is a process of creating a more equitable society, where those who need the support of the State to access various amenities necessary to a life of dignity and freedom, are provided that support," the plea said.
The broom symbol party through its plea also stated that this model of socialist and welfare governance has helped various developed countries to take a leap.
“In fact, in numerous developed countries, particularly the Scandinavian nations, the socialist and welfarist model of development has allowed significant leaps in the nations’ performance across several markers of progress, including but not restricted to markers like the Gini Coefficient which represents economic inequality and human development index which seeks out an overall assessment of social, educational and health indicators of quality of life. It is telling, then, that countries adopting these socialist models of development, and taking it upon themselves to provide free/subsidised and quality public goods to its population have been performing even better than other wealthier but more purely capitalist jurisdictions," the plea added.
The AAP through its plea also questioned the motive of Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay and stated that the petition filed by him is not a “public interest litigation” but “political interest litigation”. “…the present Petition is not an instance of non-partisan litigation made in general public interest shorn of any personal or political motives. The Petitioner himself has strong links to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), having served as its spokesperson and as a leader of its Delhi unit in the past," the plea said.
It added that Upadhyay’s frivolous petitions instituted in the name of public interest, often inspired by this party’s political agenda, have come under top court’s criticism in the past.
“In this light, the evidently ideological tailoring of the Petition becomes unsurprising. The Petition, while referring vaguely to freebies’, clearly seeks judicial action against a particular model of economic development by exclusively targeting fiscal expenditure on socialist and welfarist measures for the masses," the plea said further.
The petition comes days after the Supreme Court remarked that no political party would debate over the issue of freebies as everyone wants it to stay and none of it would be in the favour of its removal.
The comments were made by a three judges bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana. The Central government last week told the Supreme Court that the ‘distribution of freebies inevitably leads to future economic disaster".
“I support the principal arguments of the petitioner. Freebies distort the decision of the voter. He doesn’t know that it would be falling on him only later. It might take us to a financial disaster….Let the Election Commission examine the issue," Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had argued.
Later, the top court had asked all stakeholders, including the Centre, Niti Aayog, Finance Commission and the RBI to brainstorm the issue of freebies promised during elections and come out with constructive suggestions to deal with it.