HC removes EC freeze on rice scheme

 The order was delivered by a Division Bench led by Chief Justice J Chelameswar on a petition filed by Rajaji Mathew Thomas, MLA, challenging the EC’s decision. The decision to extend the Rs 2 a kg rice scheme from BPL beneficiaries to above poverty line (APL) beneficiaries also was announced by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan after a cabinet meeting on February 23. This would benefit 40 lakh families.

Though the decision was announced six days ahead of the declaration of poll dates, the EC asked the government to stop going ahead with the programme earlier this month. The Opposition Congress had protested against the announcement of the scheme.

The court said the Election Commission had no power prima facie to interfere with the Government Order and wanted the commission to file a statement by March 18. The bench 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,’’ it said. Reacting to the court order, the petitioner Rajaji Mathew Thomas said the Election Commissioner should resign for taking sides on the issue. CPM State secretary Pinarayi Vijayan has termed the court order as a slap on the face of the UDF.

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