HC raps govt over Suvarna Bhoomi scheme

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice K S Khehar and K G Ramesh on Thursday pulled up the Government for ‘picking the rich’ through draw of lots. The Bench maintained that only the poorest of the poor should be picked for the scheme.

The court was hearing a petition filed by T Y Katwa who had sought a direction to the State Government that all small farmers be chosen for the scheme.

On Wednesday, the counsel for the State had submitted that assessing the income of farmers was difficult in the absence of clear criterion. The Chief Justice, however, disagreed and held that beneficiaries could not be chosen by the draw of lots.

“The scheme is good but the criterion for selecting the beneficiaries is a case of bad policy,” the Bench observed. The Counsel for the State submitted that 5,000 beneficiaries would be picked in each taluk this year.

The scheme envisages that farmers with land holdings of up to five acres can claim not more than Rs 10,000 for developing up to two acres of their land for horticulture, fish-breeding, agriculture or apiculture.

The money released to the farmer would be proportional to the size of his land holding, with eligibility limited to only those farmers with either five acres or less land.

The petitioner had claimed that the Government had already collected the signatures of more than two lakh beneficiaries under the scheme, on blank bond papers, thus violating the law. Katwa contended that several deserving farmers would be left out.

HC penalises Centre

The High Court has imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the Union Government for challenging the eligibility of a freedom fighter, who is now deceased, to receive the pension under Freedom Fighters’ Pension Scheme.

On Thursday, a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and H G Ramesh held that Davanagowda Babagowda Patil, a freedom fighter from Belgaum district, was very much eligible for the pension.

The court dismissed the Centre’s contention that Patil, who has since passed away, had submitted fake documents. Patil started getting the pension in 1977. Twenty years later, however, the Centre cancelled the pension, saying he submitted fake documents.

Questioning this, Patil filed a writ petition and got the pension restored. In 1998, it was the Centre’s turn to file a writ petition. The court ruled that the fine amount be remitted to Patil’s legal heir.

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