The Supreme Court decided to set up an expert group with representation from Niti Aayog, Finance Commission, Election Commission, RBI and political parties to study the impact of freebies on tax payers and economy, and recommend measures to regulate it.
After listening to myriad suggestions, including leaving it to Parliament to debate and pass appropriate legislation, a bench of CJI NV Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said, “We must think about the taxpayers and the national economy. To what extent can the courts regulate given its constitutional limitations?”
The SC said, “Let an independent expert body study the pressing issue, interact with stakeholders and the general public and give a report containing concrete suggestions. We can send the suggestions to the government and ask it to take necessary action. ”
The SC asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, EC counsel Amit Sharma, petitioner’s counsel Vikas Singh and Vijay Hansaria as well as senior advocate Kapil Sibal to give their suggestions on what should be the composition of the expert panel and the contour of scrutiny of freebies within a week. It posted the matter for hearing on August 11.
Invited by the court to give his independent suggestion, Sibal said, “Election Commission is the most favoured institution and should be kept out of the issue of freebies, which is of political and economic in nature. After a thorough debate, Parliament could decide the appropriate remedial The bench disagreed, saying, “Do you seriously think Parliament will debate regulating freebies? Which political party will debate this issue? No party would agree for curbs on freebies ahead of polls. Each of them wants it. ”