SC stays HC nod for Kerala rice scheme
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Last Updated: Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 17:57
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Kerala High Court order allowing the state government to provide rice at Rs 2 per kg to all ration card holders.

A Bench comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Cyriac Joseph issued a notice to Kerala government on the petition filed by the Election Commission challenging the March 21 order of the High Court rejecting its plea to restrain the state government from implementing the scheme.

The High Court had passed the order on a petition filed by CPI legislator Rajaji M Thomas challenging the EC order which prevented the government from implementing the scheme.

The apex court bench, which also sought a response from Thomas on the EC's appeal, said whether the Commission has jurisdiction to pass such an order to stop the state government from implementing its welfare scheme when the election date has been announced would be examined later.

The Election Commission had on Monday had moved the apex court challenging the High Court's decision setting aside its order which restrained the state government from providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to all ration card holders in the poll-bound state.

The High Court had held as "wholly arbitrary" the order of the Election Commission to stop Kerala government from extending the scheme of providing rice at Rs 2 per kg to both APL and BPL categories in the state.

A division bench of the High Court had said that the EC's decision to defer the implementation of the government scheme was "unconnected" with the purposes sought to be achieved by the Commission for securing a level-playing field for all political parties.

The EC has contended extending the benefit of the scheme was against the model code of conduct in the state where Assembly Elections would be held on April 13.

It had contended that the scheme would influence the voters for the polls.

Kerala government had submitted that it has already been supplying rice at Rs 2 per kg to all BPL families.

However, the Budget for 2011-12 had made this scheme applicable to all households irrespective of the APL/BPL division. But the government had put certain riders, which included that ration card-holders whose monthly income was Rs 25,000 or above were not eligible for the scheme.


First Published: Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 17:57

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