The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to give the Pongal cash gift of Rs 1,000 to only those ration card holders who are below the poverty line (BPL).
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation case, the court restrained the Tamil Nadu government from distributing Rs 1,000 as a cash gift to all the ration card holders regardless of financial status.
Pointing out to the government that it was public money and, not the party money, the court said it would not question if it was the latter.
The court said the total cash outgo will be about Rs 2,000 crore which could be used for relief works in Cyclone Gaja-hit districts or infrastructure development and others.
According to the court, the Pongal cash gift can be given to people who are below the poverty line and not above that line.
The PIL was moved by Coimbatore-based activist Daniel Jesudoss. â€śWhen the state is in dire need of funds to restore normalcy in cyclone Gaja-affected districts, the government should not be allowed to bring such further burden to the treasury which would eventually be passed on to the people of the state,â€ť he had reportedly said.
On January 2, Governor Banwarilal Purohit, during his customary address in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, had said the state government would provide a cash gift of Rs 1,000 and a gift hamper to all ration card holders in the state to celebrate Pongal festival.
The gift hampers will consist of raw rice, sugar, raisins, cashew nuts, cardamom and sugarcane in an effort to mitigate the impact of Cyclone Gaja in Cauvery delta and the widespread drought in northern districts.
However, according to one report in the Times of India, fair price shops in the city flouted the orders of the High Court, continuing to distribute the Rs 1,000 bonanza to all ration card holders. The newspaper reports that tokens were distributed in the name of Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar.
(With IANS input)