Chennai, January 9: The Madras High Court on Wednesday stayed distribution of Rs 1,000 Pongal gift in cash to 1.91 crore ration card holders in Tamil Nadu stating that it was only meant for the people living below poverty line (BPL). This decision comes after a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on Tuesday challenging TN government's decision of Rs 1,000 to all ration card holders for harvest festival, Pongal. Tamil Nadu Govt Launches Pongal Scheme of Providing Rs 1,000 to All Ration Card-Holders.
A division bench of Justices P Rajamanickam and M Sathyanarayanan heavily criticised Edappadi K Palaniswami's government for distributing money irrespective of the state's economic status. Pongal 2019 Calendar: Know Dates And Significance of the Harvest Festival Celebrated in Tamil Nadu.
“How can you give Rs 1,000 to all ration card holders and call it policy decision? It's not your party money for us not to raise questions. It is government money,” the division bench asked while tearing into the government. The bench further added, "why are you splurging government money in the name of Pongal. If political parties give away their money we will not raise these questions."
The interim decision was taken after a plea was moved by activist J Daniel Jesudass challenging the state government's decision of distributing Rs 1000 to all ration card holder. With the order, from 1.91 crore cardholders, only 91 lakh families will be eligible for cash assistance. However, the court allowed distribution of sugarcane and other items for all ration card holders.