Hyderabad: A division bench of the Telangana High Court on Monday reserved its orders in the three PILs and other petitions that argued against the Election Commission of India (ECI) freeze on the Dalit Bandhu scheme in Huzurabad Assembly constituency.
The bench comprised Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Rajashekar Reddy, while the petitions were filed by journalist Mallepalli Laxmaiah, member of All India Congress Committee Bukka Judson and another person.
Election Commission counsel Avinash Desai said Huzurabad seat fell vacant on June 12 and the Dalit Bandhu scheme was implemented thereafter. The government order on the introduction and implementation of Dalit Bandhu stated that it was done as a pilot project in this constituency alone. The ECI, therefore, concluded that a direct cash benefit scheme like Dalit Bandhu would impact voters, counsel said.
Bukka Judson’s counsel said the ECI had stopped the scheme at the instance of other political parties and under the garb of imposing the model code. The ECI did not state at whose instance it stopped the scheme, or who had lodged a complaint against it, counsel said.
Counsel said that on an earlier occasion, the TRS government had distributed Rs 10,000 per family in Hyderabad under the guise of flood relief, and this was done just before the GHMC elections. Once the state election commission deferred the distribution of money on grounds of elections, the government did not resume the disbursal of relief after the polls. This should not repeat with the Dalit Bandhu scheme, he said.
Raghunath, counsel for Laxmaiah, said the stoppage of the scheme has come as a “rude shock” and a serious setback to young Dalits who were expecting a huge sum as financial assistance.
Ramachander Rao, additional advocate general, said the scheme was introduced to empower Dalits. In 2015, the state government had floated a scheme to give every Dalit family three acres of land. This did not happen. Now, the government floated the Dalit Bandhu scheme before the election schedule was announced.
He said the scheme was also being implemented in several mandals of Yadadri Bhuvanagiri, Suryapet, Bhadradri-Kothagudem and Nagarkurnool, apart from Huzurabad....