Free distribution of televisions, laptops and mixer-grinders among people by the government is linked to the directive principles of state policy and not a waste of public resources, Tamil Nadu told the Supreme Court Tuesday.
Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the state, told an apex court bench headed by Justice P. Sathasivam: “The state giving largesse like TVs, laptops, mixer-grinders and others is directly related to the directive principles.”
The court was hearing a plea filed by a Chennai advocate S. Subramaniam Balaji against the government’s schemes for giving free TVs, laptops and mixer-grinders.
The petitioner has questioned the previous DMK government’s free colour television distribution scheme as well as the present AIADMK government’s decision to distribute free mixer-grinders to women and laptops to students.
Naphade submitted that the common man receiving some benefit from a government largesse was not a matter that warranted the apex court’s intervention.
Stressing that what was once a luxury had become a necessity, Naphade said the concept of livelihood was not confined to food, clothing and shelter but also included provision for medicine, transport, education, recreation and others.
He said implementing the directive principles of state policy was a matter within the government domain.
Dismissing the petitioner’s contention that the promise of freebies by political parties in their election manifestoes was a corrupt practice, Naphade said what constituted electoral corrupt practice had been dealt by the Representation of People Act.
Naphade said the manifesto of a political party was a statement of its policy and a promise of future government if the party came to power and not that of an individual candidate.
He said the Representation of People Act did not fetter the powers of political parties from making promises in their election manifesto.
Speaking to IANS, Balaji said that the case was adjourned for Wednesday.
He said the Election Commission wrote to him last August saying: “The commission also feels like you that the promise of such freebies at government cost disturbs the level playing field and vitiates the electoral process.”