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Poll freebies come under SC scanner

August 13, 2008 13:44 IST
Last Updated: August 13, 2008 14:28 IST

The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to examine whether political parties could lure the voters by promising freebies like colour televisions and computers.

A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal issued notices to Tamil Nadu and other states on a petition challenging the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government's decision to distribute colour televisions in rural areas as promised by the party in its assembly election manifesto, which will cost the state exchequer about Rs 2400 crore.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that such promises, which involved non-essential items, serve no public purpose and a political party cannot be permitted to fulfil such electoral promise at the cost of public funds.

According to the petitioner, Subramaniam Balaji, he was not challenging the government decision such as reduction in bus fare for students in the state and free books to the poor students, but distribution of colour TVs [Get Quote] cannot be justified under any circumstances.

Counsel for the petitioner also contended that rivals of the ruling party in the state had promised computers to every student after class 12th.

The apex court decided to examine whether such free gifts during elections are permissible under Article 282 of the Constitution.

The judges were reluctant to entertain the petition and Justice Sathasivam said colour TVs in villages cannot be termed non-essential as some of TV programmes are educative and informative.

Initially, Chief Justice Balakrishnan also agreed with the views of Justice Sathasivam.

Counsel for the petitioner also contended that commercial and financial interests of some people cannot be promoted at the cost of public exchequer.


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