A text message claiming that the Supreme Court has ordered the formation of a body called ‘All India taxpayers organisation’ to oversee & regulate ‘freebies’ by political parties ahead of polls, is going viral on social media & WhatsApp. Newschecker found this claim to be untrue.
Newschecker found similar claims on Facebook with similar captions.
Fact Check /Verification
We started our investigation by conducting a keyword on search with the words “Supreme Court”, “panel” and “freebies” on Google and found an article by the Times of India uploaded on 4th August, 2022 titled ‘Supreme Court to set up expert panel on freebies, blames Election Commission for laxity’.
According to the article, on August 3, the Supreme Court proposed creating a specialised body made up of individuals who can “dispassionately” assess the issue of freebies provided to voters during elections.
The article stated that the Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to set up an expert group with representation of Niti Aayog, Finance Commission of India, the Law Commission, Reserve Bank of India, Opposition, etc., who must participate in the process of ideation to address the issue of freebies and produce actionable recommendations.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli asked solicitor general Tushar Mehta, Election Commission Counsel Amit Sharma, Petitioner’s counsel Vikash Singh and Vijay Hansaria along with senior advocate Kapil Sibal to suggest the ideal composition of such a panel, which will contour on scrutiny of freebies and give suggestions to the government and posted the matter for hearing on August 11.
The expert panel will analyse the adverse effects freebies have on the economy of the country and provide its recommendations to the Government which will take into account the suggestions.
We thus understand that the Supreme Court has asked several senior advocates and members of the ECI to form an expert panel which will study the adverse effects the freebies have on the economy of the country.
Newschecker found that there is no mention of any committee called the All India Organisation of Taxpayers committee, which is claimed to be a body whose sanction would now be required to give freebies like free electricity, water, loan waivers etc. as claimed in the viral post.
There is also no mention of the Government approving the blueprint of their schemes through the committee before announcing them.
This proves that such a committee is still in the proposed stage and the final orders on the subject are yet to come out.
Upon further investigation, Newschecker also found an article by The Hindu uploaded on April 4, 2022 regarding a similar case.
According to the article, the ECI, in its reply to a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay in the Supreme Court on promise and distribution of “irrational freebies” by parties, said that offering or distributing freebies either before or after an election is a policy decision of a political party. The article further stated that the ECI referred to the top court’s own decision in the S. Subramaniam Balaji case that the poll body cannot intervene in promises made in election manifestos released by parties before the announcement of the election dates, after which the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) kicked in.
Newschecker’s investigation revealed that the claim that the Supreme Court has set up an All India taxpayers organisation to oversee and regulate the ‘freebies’ offered by the Government or other political parties is false. The Supreme Court has asked several senior advocates along with members of the ECI to form an expert panel which will offer their suggestions on the adverse effects the freebies have on the economy of the country.
Times of India report, Supreme Court to set up expert panel on freebies, blames Election Commission for laxity, 4th August, 2022
Hindu report, Offering freebies is a policy call of a political party: Election Commission, 4th April, 2022
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