Madras HC permits Pongal cash gift to ‘sugar’ ration card holders..!
The Madras High Court on Friday permitted the State government to dole out Pongal cash gift of ₹1,000 to additional 10 lakh ration card holders, who purchase sugar instead of rice, apart from more than 1.85 crore ration cardholders for whom the permission was already granted on Wednesday.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam ordered that the ban on disbursing cash shall now apply to only around 40,000 people who use their ration cards only as identity proof and not to buy any commodity through Public Distribution System (PDS).
The relaxation was granted at the request of Advocate General Vijay Narayan and Additional Government Pleader E. Manohar who claimed that there were many below the poverty line and middle class families, which had opted to purchase sugar in lieu of rice and therefore the benefit should not be granted denied to them.
In a petition filed through them, Food and Consumer Protection Secretary Dayanand Kataria stated that there were five categories of ration cards in the State.
Passing interim orders on a public interest litigation petition filed against doling out cash gifts to all ration cardholders irrespective of their economic status, the court had on Wednesday permitted the State to disburse money to only three categories of ration cardholders.
Those who would benefit out of the court order were 76,99,940 Priority Household (entitled to all commodities including sugar) ration cardholders, 18,64,600 Priority Household- Antyodaya Anna Yojana (all commodities including 35 kg of rice) and 90,08,842 Non Priority Household (all commodities including rice) cardholders. The non-beneficiaries were 10,11,330 NPHH (sugar option) cardholders and 41,106 Non Priority Household — no commodities cardholders.
Pointing out that there was not much of a difference between NPHH (all commodities including rice) cardholders and NPHH (sugar option) cardholders who had exercised the option to get additional sugar instead of rice through Public Distribution System, the State government informed the court that even before the interim order was passed on Monday 4,12,588 sugar cardholders had been granted the Pongal gift 1,000 each.
Since the rest of 5,98,742 sugar cardholders were disappointed over non-receipt of money due to the court order, the government urged the Division Bench to relax the restraint in so far as these sugar option cards were concerned. It, however, did not seek relaxation with respect to those who use ration cards only as an identity proof and do not purchase any commodity from the ration shops.