Welfare schemes can't be construed freebie: DMK

The DMK, in its application impleadment, said: "It is humbly submitted that the scope of a 'freebie' is very wide and there are a lot of aspects which are to be considered. Only a welfare scheme introduced by a state government cannot be judged to be classified as a freebie."
Supreme Court
Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu's ruling DMK has moved the Supreme Court seeking to be impleaded as a respondent in an ongoing case in connection with "freebies", saying that the scope of freebie is very wide and only a welfare scheme introduced by a state government cannot be judged to be classified as a freebie.

The DMK, in its application impleadment, said: "It is humbly submitted that the scope of a 'freebie' is very wide and there are a lot of aspects which are to be considered. Only a welfare scheme introduced by a state government cannot be judged to be classified as a freebie."

It further added: "The ruling government at the Union giving tax holidays to foreign companies, waiver of bad loans of influential industrialists, granting crucial contracts to favoured conglomerates etc., also have to be considered and cannot be left untouched."

It argued that the top court cannot have a restrictive approach for classifying any scheme or act by the Union/state legislature to be a "freebie" without considering the magnitude of resultant consequences and social welfare at both micro and macro level.

The plea submitted that a welfare scheme providing a free service is introduced with an intent to secure a social order and economic justice under Article 38 to minimise the inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities and in no imaginable reality, it could be construed as a "freebie".

"Such schemes have been introduced in order to provide basic necessities which the poor households cannot afford. They cannot be imputed to be luxuries. Schemes such as free electricity can have a multi-dimensional effect on a poor household. Electricity can provide lighting, heating and cooling resulting in a better standard of living. It can facilitate a child in his education and studies," said the application.

It further added that a welfare scheme therefore, can have a wide reach and multiple intentions behind its introduction and the cascading effect arising from it cannot be defined in a restrictive meaning as a freebie. "The Constitution empowers the State Governments under the Concurrent and State Lists to promulgate welfare schemes. Therefore, the term 'freebies' cannot be interpreted in such a way which interferes with the State's competence under the Schedule VII," said the application.

Aam Aadmi Party has also filed a petition in the top court, with similar arguments.

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