What the bench headed by the then CJI NV Ramana said

Ultimately, it appears to us that the issues raised by the parties require an extensive hearing before any concrete orders can be passed.
Former CJI NV Ramana
Former CJI NV RamanaFile photo

CHENNAI: Freebies may create a situation wherein the State government cannot provide basic amenities due to lack of funds and the State is pushed towards imminent bankruptcy… such freebies are extended utilising tax payers money only for increasing the popularity of the party and electoral prospects.

There can be no denying the fact that in an electoral democracy such as ours, the true power ultimately lies with the electorate. It is the electorate that decides which party or candidate comes to power, and also judges the performance… at the end of the legislative term… It is also necessary to highlight the point raised by some of the intervenors, that all promises cannot be equated with freebies as they relate to welfare schemes or measures for the public good. Not only are these a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, but are also a responsibility of the welfare state. At the same time, the worry raised by the petitioners that under the guise of electoral promises, fiscal responsibility is being dispensed with, must also be considered.

Ultimately, it appears to us that the issues raised by the parties require an extensive hearing before any concrete orders can be passed. Certain preliminary issues that may need to be deliberated upon and decided in the present set of petitions are as follows:

What is the scope of judicial intervention with respect to the reliefs sought in the present batch of petitions?

Whether any enforceable order can be passed by this court in these petitions?

Whether the appointment of a commission/expert body by the court would serve any purpose in this matter? Additionally, what should be the scope, composition, and powers of the said commission/expert body?

Looking at the complexity of the issues involved, and the prayer to overrule a judgment rendered by a two-Judge bench of this court in S Subramaniam Balaji [case], we direct listing of these set of petitions before a three-judge bench, after obtaining the orders of the Chief Justice of India

CJI NV Ramana, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice CT Ravikumar (August 26, 2022)

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