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India's anti-freebie fighter gears up for court battle

Posted on Apr 15 2014 | IANS

Chennai, April 15 : Though no major parties promised freebies in the general elections, barring the AIADMK, India's anti-freebie fighter S. Subramaniam Balaji is gearing up for another round of court battle.

"I will be filing a review petition in the Supreme Court soon, perhaps after the elections, against its judgment given July 2013 in my case against freebies," Balaji told IANS.

He said the Election Commission has lost an opportunity to reign in political parties from creating private assets out of public money to be in power with a proper guideline.

According to him, the only consolation in fighting court battles for the past several years is that no national party has promised freebies to get votes.

Only the AIADMK in its election manifesto promised to ensure freebies like laptops, mixer grinders and fans as well as goats, sheep, cows and others to the poor on all India basis, Balaji said.

"If there had been a third front with major regional parties coming together then freebies would have been promised," he said.

In July 2013, the apex court held that nothing under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act barred political parties from promising voters freebies in their manifestos.

However, the apex court bench, headed by Justice P. Sathasivam asked the Election Commission to frame guidelines to restrain political parties from promising freebies to voters, so as to maintain a level playing field during the election.

Balaji had filed a petition against the freebies distributed by the previous DMK government and the current AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.

The free colour TV scheme was implemented by the previous DMK government as part of its poll promise in 2006, while its successor AIADMK government offered free mixers, grinders, fans and laptops for students, among other things in 2011.

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