Tamil Nadu

HC to hear Puducherry CM’s petition from January 24

Chennai, 11/4/2008: Madras High Court in Chennai on Friday. Photo: V. Ganesan.

Chennai, 11/4/2008: Madras High Court in Chennai on Friday. Photo: V. Ganesan.  

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He challenged Centre’s advisory to transfer cash instead of distributing free rice

The Madras High Court on Monday decided to commence hearing arguments from January 24, both on the maintainability as well as the merits of a writ petition filed by Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy, challenging an advisory issued by the Centre last month for continuing the practice of transferring cash instead of free distribution of rice to ration cardholders.

Justice C.V. Karthikeyan took the decision when the writ petition was listed for admission before him.

Opposing the plea, Additional Solicitor General G. Rajagopalan questioned the very maintainability of the case and claimed that the Chief Minister of a Union Territory was not entitled to file a case against the Centre, since both of them were not distinct entities.

Further, referring to Section 50 of the Government of Union Territories Act of 1963, he said all decisions taken by the Centre were binding upon the Administrator (called as Lieutenant Governor in Puducherry) as well as the Council of Ministers in a Union Territory. Therefore, no Minister, much less the Chief Minister, could challenge such decisions before a court of law. After directing him to put his submissions by way of a counter affidavit, the judge allocated the entire afternoon session on January 24 to hear the petitioner, the L-G as well as the Centre.

In his petition, Mr. Narayanasamy accused L-G Kiran Bedi of having having made a recommendation for direct benefit transfer (cash deposit) without taking ground realities into account.

‘Good results’

He said the prime objective of distribution of rice and other essentials through public distribution system was to address maladies such as hunger and malnutrition. Hence, after being elected in 2016, his government had increased the distribution of free rice to all ration cardholders from 10kg to 20kg a month. The scheme yielded good results, he claimed.

In the meantime, the Centre brought in the Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy Rules of 2015. However, a study conducted by a non-governmental organisation in Puducherry found that 85% of people were in favour of receiving free supply of food grains through ration shops every month and that only 2% preferred deposit of cash in their bank accounts, he said.The Chief Minister feared that cash transfer would lead to male members in poor families snatching away the money from women and spend it for consuming liquor. Dubbing cash transfer as a “lazy short cut,” he said, it could lead to pilferage at various levels and would not help in achieving the objective of fighting hunger and malnutrition.

Hence, his council of ministers on June 7 last year passed a resolution for continuing free distribution of rice and not to opt for cash transfer. However, Ms. Bedi differed with that decision and referred the issue to the Centre on September 5. Not stopping with that, she ordered implementation of cash transfer till the Centre took a final call on the issue.

“Accordingly, cash is being credited to the beneficiaries account,” the CM said and urged the court to declare as illegal the reference made by the L-G as well as the consequent decision taken by the Centre last month that the DBT scheme shall continue in the union territory in lieu of distribution of free rice.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:54:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-to-hear-puducherry-cms-petition-from-january-24/article30562385.ece

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