DMK leaders have argued that the gifts are essentially welfare measures and that the state government has the right to decide which welfare measures should be given.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court harshly criticized the DMK for some of its statements on the issue of gifts, saying the judiciary is responsible and wisdom does not belong to any particular party or any particular person. A bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana, hearing a PIL against irrational gifts hit DMK, as his lawyer P Wilson, who is also a DMK MP, began his submissions.
DMK leaders have argued that the gifts are essentially welfare measures and that the state government has the right to decide which welfare measures should be given. On August 16, the DMK filed an impeachment motion in the Supreme Court asking to be added as a party in the plea requesting that political parties be banned from promising campaign giveaways. In its court petition, the DMK said there was no straitjacket formula that can decide which regime can be considered a giveaway and added that the Constitution empowers state governments to enact social protection schemes.
“Mr Wilson (Senior Solicitor P Wilson, Solicitor for DMK), I am sorry to say. I wanted to say so many things. But I am not saying this being the Chief Justice of India. The party and minister whose he (a lawyer) speaks… I don’t think wisdom belongs to any particular person or any particular party, we are equally responsible…, the CJI said.
Lead attorney AM Singhvi, representing Aam Aadmi party, said the LIP petitioner was seeking a gag order without saying so.
He said targeting and regulating campaign speech would only be a wild goose chase if concerns centered on the budget deficit due to political party poll giveaways.
The AAP, in its submissions, said stopping polling pledges without legislative backing would violate the fundamental right to free speech and expression.
Such a restriction or prohibition, imposed by the executive or the judiciary, would amount to a restriction of the freedom of expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) without the support of a legislative sanction, declared the party in its supplementary submissions.
Again, you’re going along with those opposing it and saying the court can’t consider the matter, the bench said.
The higher court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, which opposes the practice of political parties promising gifts during elections and calls on the Election Commission to invoke its powers to freeze their election symbols and cancel their registration . The bench, which is considering setting up a group of experts to consider the issue of gifts announced during the elections, would resume the hearing on Wednesday.
In addition to the AAP and the DMK, Congress and the YSRCP also intervened as parties to the proceedings.
Read: ‘Social protection programs cannot be called freebies’: DMK asks SC for hearing in freebies case