The Supreme Court on Tuesday came down on the DMK for some of its statements on the issue of freebies, saying the judiciary is “responsible” and the “wisdom does not belong to a particular party or a particular person”.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N V Ramana, during the hearing of a PIL against “irrational” freebies, rapped DMK, the moment its counsel P Wilson, who is also DMK MP, commenced his submissions.
Some leaders of the party have been reportedly making statements on the issue of freebies and the judicial intervention on the ground that welfare measures are for uplifting marginalised people and cannot be held as “freebies”.
“Mr Wilson (senior advocate P Wilson, counsel for DMK), I am sorry to say this. I wanted to say so many things. But I am not saying so being the Chief Justice of India. The party and the minister which he (a lawyer) is talking about…I don’t think that wisdom only belongs to a particular person or a particular party. We are also responsible..,” the Chief Justice said.
Senior advocate A M Singhvi, appearing for the Aam Aadmi Party, said that the PIL petitioner was seeking a gag order without saying so.
He said targeting and regulating electoral speeches will amount to “nothing more than a wild-goose chase” if the concerns are over fiscal deficit due to the promises of freebies made during polls by political parties.
AAP, in its submissions, has said that stopping poll promises without legislative backing would be violative of the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
“Such a restriction or prohibition, executively or judicially imposed, would amount to a curtailment of the freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) without the backing of legislative sanction,” the party has said in its additional submissions.
“Again you are going to the direction of those who are opposing and saying that the court cannot examine the issue,” the bench said.
The Supreme Court was hearing a PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, which opposes the practice of political parties promising freebies during elections and seeks the Election Commission to invoke its powers to freeze their election symbols and cancel their registration.
The bench, which is mulling setting up an expert panel to brainstorm the issue of freebies announced during elections, would resume hearing on Wednesday.
Besides AAP and DMK, Congress and YSRCP have also intervened as parties in the proceedings.