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NEW DELHI: Faced with a petition seeking an end to announcement of freebies by parties, the apex court on Monday said that people no longer vote on promises and that they exercise their franchise keeping in view many factors.

When PIL petitioner Vijay Sardana wanted a regulatory mechanism against freebies on the ground that these cause serious damage to the economic health of the country, a bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and V Ramasubramanian said now the voters are much wiser and they do not cast their votes on mere promises. The petitioner said political parties must have basic understanding of the financial condition of the state.

The bench said, “We have come to a stage where people do not vote on the basis of mere promises but on some other considerations.” It was appraised by senior advocate A M Singhvi that a similar issue was debated for a considerable time before the CJI-led bench in August and that the matter has been referred to a larger bench.

Justices Nazeer and Ramasubramanian ordered tagging of Sardana’s petition with the pending ones. On August 26, the SC had referred to a three-judge bench for wider discussion on petitions seeking regulatory mechanism to curb economically harmful freebies announced by political parties on election-eve to lure voters.

A bench led by then CJI N V Ramana had said, “Freebies may create a situation wherein the government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the state is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy. In the same breath, we should remember that such freebies are extended utilising taxpayers’ money only for increasing the popularity of the party and electoral prospects.”


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