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Supreme Court issues notice to Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh govts over freebies

The SC has sought a response after PIL alleged that freebies were being distributed to voters ahead of the State Assembly elections.

The Supreme Court on Friday has issued a notice to the governments of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh on a plea that sought comprehensive guidelines to debar any political party from distributing cash and other freebies at the expense of the taxpayer’s money and has given the governments a time of four weeks to respond to the allegations.

A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra also issued notices to the Centre, the Election Commission (EC) and the Reserve Bank of India on the petition which alleged that the governments were using unfair means to attract voters. The bench further tagged this case along with another case related to freebies.

“There can be nothing more atrocious than the government distributing cash before the polls. This is happening every time and the burden is on the taxpayers ultimately”, the lawyer representing the petitioner said. ‘Issue notice. Returnable in four weeks,’ the Supreme Court bench said.

The plea filed by Bhattulal Jain, a social worker, sought directions to be issued to prevent the misuse of the consolidated fund or grant public funds on the verge of elections to lure voters. The petition also alleged that such pre-poll promises made by political parties were “frittering away taxpayers’ money”.

Previously in January 2022, the Supreme Court of India had issued a notice to the centre and the Election Commission on the issue of political parties offering freebies and cash to bribe and lure voters ahead of the state assembly elections in five states. The SC had then said that this was a very serious matter and had called on the centre and the EC to make sure this does not happen.

Political parties have also in the past promised to offer free electricity, free water supply, monthly allowance to unemployed, daily wage workers and women as well as gadgets like laptops, smartphones, scooters, etc. in order to secure the votes of the people in their favour.

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