PTI, CHENNAI: A cash assistance announced by the Tamil Nadu government for below poverty line and poor families has been stopped in view of the model code of conduct coming into force ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, the state dispensation informed the Madras High Court Thursday.
Making the submission before a bench comprising justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad on two petitions challenging the scheme, State Advocate General Vijay Narayan said the enumeration of beneficiaries had also been stopped. Recording it, the bench adjourned the petitions to April 29. Chief Minister K Palaniswami had on February 11 announced the special assistance of Rs 2,000 each to about 60 lakh below poverty line and poor families across the state, keeping in mind the impact of Gaja cyclone as well as the prevailing drought.
In their petitions, M Karunanidhi and M Murugesan have contended that the cash assistance of Rs 2,000 each should be given only to the people belonging to the below poverty line, as per a government order of January 9, 2007, on such welfare measures.
However, the Rural Development and Panchayat Raj department issued an order on February 13 stating that the one time special assistance of Rs 2,000 would be given to the poor families living in rural and urban areas, particularly agricultural labourers and families of poor labourers engaged in various trades in the state. The petitioners claimed there was no proper identification of the beneficiaries under the scheme and tax payers money would be utilised in extending the benefit to families, which are not below the poverty line.
This would amount to abuse of government funds for garnering votes at the cost of the state exchequer, they contended and sought to quash the government order. Polling for 39 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state will be held on April 18. The model code of conduct came into force on March 10 with the announcement of the schedule for the Lok Sabha elections by the Election Commission.