The Madras High Court today backed the State Government’s Sivagami Ammaiyar Memorial Girl Child Protection Scheme, ruling that such beneficial schemes could not be curtailed on technicalities.
A Division Bench of Justices D. Murugesan and S. Nagamuthu passed the ruling while dismissing a writ appeal filed in the Madurai Bench by the Social Welfare Department Secretary against an order passed by a single judge on April 30.
The appellant was aggrieved against the single judge’s direction to provide monetary assistance to a family though it had not applied within one year of the birth of the girl child as stipulated under a Government Order (G.O.) issued in 2001.
Finding no fault with the single judge’s decision, the Division Bench said that the family was entitled to the financial benefit under the scheme in terms of another G.O. passed in 2004 extending the time limit for making applications from one to three years.
"That apart, the scheme is a beneficial scheme intended to extend financial assistance to the women who had given birth to not more than two girl children. Such a benefit cannot be curtailed on technicalities," the judges observed.
The girl child protection scheme was intended towards encouraging family planning, eradicating female infanticide and promoting the welfare of girl children in poor families besides raising the status of such children in the society.
Under the scheme, the Government would deposit Rs.22,000 with the Tamil Nadu Power Finance Corporation in case of a family with a lone girl child and no male child if either of the parents undergo sterilisation before 35 years of age.
Around Rs.150 would be given every month, out of the interest accrued from the deposit, for the education of the girl child. The terminal benefit would be released at the end of 20 years for pursuing higher education or defraying marriage expenses.
Similarly, for families with two girl children, the Government would deposit Rs.15,200 in the name of each child and both of them would be eligible for a terminal benefit from the deposit along with accrued interest after 20 years.
The scheme stipulates that the family income for claiming benefit for a lone girl child should not exceed Rs. 50,000 per annum and the income of those claiming the benefit for two girl children should be below Rs. 12,000.
In the present case, V. Biruntha of Bodinayakanur in Theni district had made an application to include her two daughters born in 1999 and 2002 in the scheme. Her plea was rejected for not making the application within a year.