Hearing deferred on PIL

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Mumbai, Nov 28 (UNI) The Bombay High court today deferred hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) by BJP leader Dr Kirit Somaiya, seeking immediate withdrawal of 'rotten wheat' and enquiry into the entire import procedure, for allowing the central and state governments to file their replies.

Additional Solicitor General Rajendra Raghuvanshi said nobody wishes to cheat the poor people or distribute rotten wheat to them, but the petitioner should not make use of the issue for political gains.

When the counsel for Somaiya insisted on retrieving the balance wheat from the network of public distribution system, Mr Raghuvanshi informed the division bench, comprising Justice J N Patel and Justice Nishita Mhatre, that it would not be possible as the wheat has been distributed throughout eight states.

The court adjourned further hearing on the matter for two weeks so as to enable Union and state governments to file their replies.

Somaiya has alleged in the PIL that the Union Agriculture Ministry's malafide decision to import red wheat has cost the public exchequer dearly with additional burden of more than Rs 4000 crore and those at the helm of the affairs have benefitted from the import.

Casting suspicion over seachange in wheat production scenario of the country--from a wheat exporting country to the importing one-- the petition states that between 2001 and 2005 India had exported 12.4 Million tonnes of wheat, but suddenly during 2006 the Union Government found shortage of wheat and decided to import the commodity. Since then, from February 2006 till now 68 lakh tonnes of wheat has been imported. The alleged rotten wheat was imported at the rate of Rs 16 to 18 a Kg whereas in India good quality wheat was being procurred at the rate of Rs 6 to 8 a Kg, Somayya has alleged in the petition.

UNI

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