Puducherry allowed to give free rice

Puducherry allowed to give free rice

S Murari

Puducherry, June 4, 2020 : The Centre has allowed the Puducherry administration to give free rice to those above the poverty line for the next three months to mitigate their sufferings caused by covid pandemic. Those below the poverty line (BPL) are already covered by the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

Central Government counsel on Thursday conveyed this decision to a division bench of the Madras High Court during a hearing on an appeal filed by Chief Minister V Narayanaswamy against a single judge’s order upholding Lt Governor Kiren Bedi’s diktat that the administration should give cash instead of rice to APL families and the amount should be credited to their accounts.

Justice C V Karthikeyan last February rejected Narayanaswamy’s writ petition challenging the order of Kiren Bedi. The judge said as the President had concurred with the view of Kiren Bedi , his decision was binding on the Council of Ministers under the Government of India Union Territories Act of 1963.

The standoff between the Chief Minister and the Lt Governor started last year when the Congress-led coalition government decided to give 20 kg of rice to ration card holders, 10 kg each to APL and BPL card holders per month for three months. Bedi insisted that those above the poverty line should be paid cash instead of rice and the amount should be credited to their accounts.

Narayanaswamy in his petition contended that it was a policy decision with which the Lt governor could not interfere and that his administration got the approval from the Union Minister for Civil Supplies, Consumer and Food Distribution. However, Bedi wrote to the Union Home Ministry and got the President’s concurrence for her decision.

To end the standoff, the Centre in April allowed the Narayanaswamy administration to distribute 10 kg free rice to APL cardholders from February this year.

This decision was conveyed to the high court bench during Thursday's heating.After hearing both sides, the bench ordered notice to the Centre and Lt Governor and posted the case to June 23.