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Supreme Court to look into plea on freebies

THE ASIAN AGE. | J. VENKATESAN
Published : Oct 8, 2017, 12:54 am IST
Updated : Oct 8, 2017, 12:55 am IST

To examine if distribution during polls falls under welfare schemes.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: File)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: File)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine whether the distribution of freebies like washing machine, laptops and grinders on the eve of elections will fall under the ambit of state’s welfare schemes.

A bench, headed by Justice R.K. Agrawal, issued a notice to the Election Commission and Himachal Pradesh government on a special leave petition filed by activist Kuldeep and others against the state’s high court order which had held that such distribution of products were part of welfare measures.  

The issue involved in the present case is whether the distribution of freebies like washing machines, induction heaters, solar cookers etc to the beneficiaries falls under the definition of welfare measures? And whether the welfare scheme are made with the intent to provide medical aid, maternity benefits, old age benefits etc or it includes the distribution of luxuries articles which are not the basic amenities necessary for livelihood?

The Himachal Pradesh government distributed freebies and claimed that it will come under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regula-tion of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and justified its action.

The petitioners, however, argued that under the Act, such freebies were not permitted as the same were never contemplated by the Act and the Rules made there under they contended that goods being distributed as state largesse, which cannot be made in an arbitrary manner without disclosing the exact benefit, which would accrue because of such distribution.

It was submitted that the object of the Statute was to provide financial assistance to the workers to empower them and not provide them with material products and goods as a method of distribution of benefits in the guise of welfare assistance.

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