MK Stalin’s party moves SC, challenges definition of freebies

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) on Tuesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court amid the ongoing debate on electoral freebies.The party argued that the welfare schemes introduced by a state government cannot be termed as freebies and they can have wide and multiple intentions.

“In a welfare scheme, free services are introduced with an intent to secure social order and economic justice under the Constitution’s Article 38 to minimise the inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities. In no imaginable reality, it could be construed as a ‘freebie’,” the petition read.

“Such schemes have been introduced in order to provide basic necessities which poor households cannot afford. They cannot be imputed to be luxuries,” read the affidavit filed by DMK chief and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

“The Centre’s tax and loan waivers should also be included as ‘freebies’,” it said.

The different DMK and AIADMK regimes have over the years implemented various government initiatives free of cost in different sectors in the state, such as the colour TV scheme (DMK), the milch animals and laptops for students (AIADMK).

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The DMK also defended free electricity and other schemes introduced in the state.

“Electricity can provide lighting, heating and cooling, which provides a better standard of living. It can facilitate a child in his education and studies. 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 petition said.

Notably, Delhi CM and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supremo Arvind Kejriwal has also filed a similar petition in court.

“The expenditure on education and health cannot be freebies. Because education is about knowledge, while medicine relates to health. This government wants to implement adequate welfare schemes in both these sectors,” MK Stalin had said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently said freebies are hampering India’s effort to become self-reliant and also a burden on taxpayers and criticised some opposition parties for engaging in the politics of freebies.

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