SC rejects State plea to allow ex-gratia relief to flood victims from CM Relief Fund

Division Bench of Supreme Court of India comprising

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

JJ Chief Justice of India, Mr. Justice H.L.Dattu and Mr. Justice A.K. Sikri today rejected the application of J&K government to direct the Election Commission of India to permit the State government to provide ex-gratia relief to the flood victims in Kashmir by relaxing the norms relating to the Code of Conduct during the Assembly election. This matter was raised by Advocate General of J&K during the hearing of J&K National Panthers Party petition with some other petitions seeking urgent relief and rehabilitation of the flood victims in the State.

Prof.Bhim Singh appearing for the Panthers Party before the Supreme Court made a strong submission about the failure of the State government to provide timely relief to the victims and take urgent steps for the rehabilitation of nearly six lacs flood victims. He said that it was terrible situation and state apathy when the dead bodies buried under the debris during the flood devastation have not been dug out in Sadal village of Udhampur District and Laam village of Nowshera, Rajouri.

Prof.Bhim Singh strongly advocated that funds should be provided through National Disaster Management Authority which was created by an Act of Parliament in 2005, to the State Disaster Management Authority which has not been done. He said the State Disaster Management Authority should have been authorized for the disbursement of relief, both in cash and kind. He said that Rs.2200 crores were given from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund which in fact should have gone to State Disaster Management Authority under the Act.

He said that Prime Minister during his Diwali celebration in Srinagar had released another amount of Rs.540 crores to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund which again was violative of the National Disaster Management Authority. He wondered why both Union of India as well as the State government remained silent on the issues raised by the Panthers Party before the Supreme Court through its affidavit dated 07.10.2014 and the I.A. (Supplementary Application) filed by the party seeking direction of the court to the Union of India to declare the situation caused due to floods in J&K as a National Disaster and release the funds to the State Disaster Management Authority instead.

Prof.Bhim Singh further submitted that the Chief Minister and his ministers both from the Congress and NC are busy in election in the state which has already started and shall continue till end of December. All the ministers as well as Chief Minister have been misusing the CM Relief Fund towards their election campaign. The relief material is also being misused which amounts to violation of Election Rules as well as a violation of the Conduct of the Election Rules. He strongly argued that the relief cannot be stopped and rehabilitation should not be hampered without violating the Code of Conduct. This, he, submitted is only possible when entire relief process is conducted by the authority of the State Disaster Management Committee. He also made a strong plea that during the election the State Disaster Management Authority should be chaired by the Governor of the State who is not a party to the election in the state.

Prof.Bhim Singh also expressed surprise that in spite of the notices of the Supreme Court the Union of India and the State government have not cared to file reply as was directed by this Hon’ble Court on 10thOctober, 2014 relating to the misuse of State Disaster Management Authority in the state. Prof.Bhim Singh also made a strong protest that both the Union of India and State government are playing hide and seek with this Hon’ble Court by making political statements, seeking undue concessions and acting adverse to the direction of this Hon’ble Court.

Prof.Bhim Singh said that the State government is not providing appropriate facilities to the monitoring committee constituted under the direction of this Hon’ble Court. He said that a report (interim) by the committee was submitted on 9th October, 2014 and today is the 17th November. No further report on the situation or on the utility of funds or material is available with the court because the meeting of the committee was not called after 10th October, 2014. He submitted that there is no electricity available even in the High Court in Kashmir. The computers, Xerox machines and other heavy instruments are not functioning at all. He said there is no governance in the Valley as entire government has shifted to Jammu City. This is the old custom which was introduced by the Maharajas of J&K to shift the offices in winter to Jammu and in summer to Kashmir. He said that in 60 years of so-called democracy the feudal system remains unchanged. He said that the people of the Valley are suffering and there is no government functioning at all also because all of us (politicians) are busy in making false promises with the people as we (politicians) always to during the elections. Nothing is delivered which the people of J&K have been looking for after the National Disaster. He submitted that how the people of the state can expect relief and rehabilitation when election fever is at its height.

Prof.Bhim Singh further submitted that the families of dead, I know 20 in Sadal (Udhampur) and 14 in Laam (Rajouri) cannot get any relief because the authorities cannot do so unless death certificates of those buried under the debris are made available and no doctor can issue death certificate unless he/she examines the dead body.

About farmers Prof.Bhim Singh submitted that farmers were the worst sufferers in both the provinces, Jammu Pradesh and Kashmir Valley. He said the orchids’ enmass have been demolished, crop in Jammu Pradesh has been destroyed and the farmers cannot be compensated under the present rules framed by the Govt. of J&K unless the entire situation is examined, verified and submitted to the State Disaster Management Authority. He further submitted that the upper middle class and the upper class got the benefit/compensation from the insurance companies and this was the magnanimity shown by this Hon’ble Court for the ends of justice. But, he submitted it was only meant for a small number of families as in J&K we do not have insurance for the crops or for the orchids or the houses and other infrastructures in the rural areas. He strongly pleaded that the monitoring committee constituted by this Hon’ble Court should be asked to file the status report without any delay so that lacs and lacs of people (flood victims) do get justice, equity through the barrels of rule of law which is available in the Constitution of India.

The Supreme Court directed that the monitoring committee should submit its report by 24thNovember, 2014.

The Supreme Court has fixed 24th November, 2014 for next hearing.