Restrict Rs. 1,000 Pongal cash gift to poor, middle class: HC

Interim order calls govt.’s move ‘waste of public money’

The Madras High Court on Wednesday questioned the rationale behind universal distribution of the Pongal cash gift of Rs. 1,000 to all ration cardholders in the State, irrespective of their economic status. It further ordered that the money should be paid only to those on or below the poverty line, and the middle class. A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and P. Rajamanickam passed the interim order on a public interest litigation petition filed by J. Daniel Jesudass, 45, a resident of Vellalore in Coimbatore district. The petitioner had questioned the necessity of doling out cash gifts to all ration cardholders when the State was facing a severe financial crunch. The order effectively means that over 1.85 crore cardholders in the State will be entitled to the benefit and only around 10.42 lakh cardholders are ineligible. In agreement with his contention, the judges wondered what the State government was attempting to achieve by spending public money on such gifts. “It is nothing but a waste of public money for non-productive purposes,” the Bench observed in its order, restraining the government from paying cash to those above the poverty line.

Freebie culture

The order also went on to state that freebies had become the order of the day in the State with successive governments, irrespective of the political party that was in power.
Expressing anguish over the State not having been able to provide even basic requirements such as potable water, good roads, electricity connections and quality education to all 70 years after Independence, the judges said such a situation had not deterred politicians from spending crores of rupees on freebies “without any worthwhile returns”.

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