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
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.