Chief Justice of India NV Ramana on Tuesday remarked that all political parties were on one side when it came to support for “freebies”, The Hindu reported.

The chief justice made the statement while hearing a public interest litigation by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay, seeking directions to the Election Commission to not allow political parties to promise “freebies” during poll campaigns.

Ramana said that the court’s main concern was that largesse in the form of “freebies” should not bleed the economy dry. He said that the Supreme Court had proposed the formation of a committee to collect the “experience and wisdom” of ordinary citizens and place a study before Parliament.

“But we find that in this issue, all political parties are on one side,” the court observed. “…Everybody wants freebies, everybody! That was exactly why we wanted a neutral body to look into the issue.”

The chief justice also criticised the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s stand on the matter when its lawyer P Wilson sought to put forward arguments in the case, Live Law reported.

“Mr Wilson, the party you represent, I have a lot of things to say but I am restraining myself because of being the CJI,” Chief Justice Ramana said. “Don’t think you are the only wise party. The way you are talking, giving statements...Don’t think we are ignoring all that is being said.”

On August 17, the Supreme Court had said that it was becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish between “freebies” and welfare schemes.

“The question is what constitutes right promises?” Ramana had asked. “Can we describe the promise of free education as a freebie? Can free drinking water, minimum essential units of powers etc. be described as freebies? Can consumer products and free electronics [be] described as welfare?”

On August 3, the court had suggested that an expert body consisting of various stakeholders such as the government, the NITI Aayog, the Finance Commission, the Law Commission, the Reserve Bank of India, and members of the Opposition should be formed to give their suggestions on the matter.