Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said that the State government will consider bringing in amendments to the Indian Penal Code to tackle the problem of high income people possessing below poverty line (BPL) ration cards.
Replying to a debate on a private member’s bill in the Assembly on Thursday, the Chief Minister said that the government accepted the contents of the bill in principle. He was replying to the debate on the Indian Penal Code (Kerala Amendment) Bill, 2012, moved by Congress MLA Hibi Eden, who had sought insertion of a new clause to Section 420 of the IPC making the possession of BPL cards by high income groups a punishable offence.
Moving the resolution, Mr. Eden said there were several cases of malpractice in which employees of Central and State governments, public sector undertakings, and cooperative institutions, who had higher income level, were holding BPL cards.
Owing to this, funds targeted at the weaker sections were being misappropriated by this category. He said that while there were remedies for including an eligible person in the BPL list, there was no penal provision to punish a person who dishonestly possesses a BPL ration card.
In Mr. Eden’s bill, the proposal is to but the burden on the ration card holders for possessing the BPL card as per Section 420 of the IPC, which provides for imprisonment of up to seven years along with a fine.
The State Assembly also considered another private member’s bill, moved by Benny Behanan, seeking to set up the Kerala Disaster Prevention Authority Bill.