The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional validity of provisions of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY), the Central government’s relief package for the poor and victims of COVID-19.
A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Navin Chawla issued notice and gave the respondents eight weeks’ time to file a response. The next day of the Hearing is October 20.
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana is a batch of schemes announced by the Centre Government following the nationwide lockdown imposed in March 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The petition has been filed by an activist named Aakash Goel through Advocate Prashant Bhushan.
The main issues which have been raised by them are cash transfers of ₹500 per month into the account of women holding Jan Dhan accounts and the provision of free cylinders exclusively to subscribers of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).
The petition argued that the grant of ₹500 was limited only to Jan Dhan account holders and having an active account is a pre-requisite for availing benefit. This criterion, the plea said, is exclusionary because crores of poor women do not possess an active account.
in the plea, it was written – “In light of the mandate of Union Government to use DBT mechanism to directly transfer funds/subsidy/welfare measures into the accounts of poor/needy persons, there is an immediate need to ease the process of opening of/conversion into PMJDY accounts. Crores of intended beneficiaries have been excluded from availing the benefit of subsidies, DBT scheme benefits, or services solely for the reason that they are not active Jan Dhan account holders.”
The plea also stated that the provision of free LPG cylinders is exclusively for customers of PMUY, which makes the scheme manifestly arbitrary, exclusionary, and discriminatory as it excludes from its ambit the below poverty line families who are not subscribers of the Ujjwala scheme that was introduced in 2016. This is violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India, the petitioner contended.