Kerala HC reprimands EC over government's rice scheme

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Kochi, Mar 16: In a significant observation, Kerala High Court today (Mar 16)  said the Election Commission has no power prima facie to interfere with the Government Order to supply rice at Rs two a kg in the state, facing assembly polls on Apr 13.

The observation was made by a Division Bench, headed by Chief Justice J Chelameswar on a petition by Rajaji Mathew Thomas, MLA, challenging the EC's decision to stop implementation of the GO to supply rice at Rs two per kg.

The bench also directed the EC to file a statement by Mar 18, observing it appeared as if the GO was issued prior to coming into force of model code of conduct.

The Court also asked the Commission why the benefit granted to poor should be interdicted."The benefits of larger interest cannot be interdicted by model code of conduct."

The petitioner had contended that the Government took the decision prior to declaration of the Apr 13 poll and before the model code of conduct came into force.

Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan had also informed the Election Commission of India of this fact, the petitioner stated.

The rice scheme to cover 40 lakh families was unveiled by Achuthanandan after a cabinet meeting on Feb 23, six days before the poll schedule was announced.

Electoral authorities had banned distribution of application forms to families to be benefitted and said government should not further take up campaign over the scheme.

The cabinet had decided to extend the rice at Rs two a kg scheme to families belonging to Above Poverty Line category also, subject to certain conditions.


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