Delhi High Court issues notice in plea challenging constitutional validity of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana Package

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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of the allegedly exclusionary criteria for identifying the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana Package dated 26.03.2020. 

The Petition has been filed through Mr. Prashant Bhushan, Adv., who appeared for the Petitioners. 

The Petitioner contends that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, 2020 ('Relief Package') introduced by the government in view of the financial hardships being faced by the poor after the first nation wide lockdown, extends the benefit of cash transfers to only those persons who have an account under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Khan Yojana ("PMJDY") scheme. Moreover, even the provisions of free cylinders which were distributed as part of the Relief Package, were only intended for those persons who are customers of the Pradhan Mantra Ujjwala Yojana ("PMUY").  The Petitioner submitted that having an active PMJDY account or being an existing customer of the PMUY scheme as a pre-requisite of availing the benefit of the Relief Package announced, is exclusionary because crores poor persons do not possess a PMJDY account and are not customers of the PMUY scheme. The Petitioner further contended that such a pre-requisite criterion is manifestly arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India. 

The Petitioner also contend that during the period of March-December 2020, it had filed a number of representations to various Banks.Banking Ombudsman, etc. on behalf of poor persons to open a PMJDY account or get an existing account converted into a PMJDY account. However, PMJDY accounts could not be opened citing various reasons.

The Petitioner had also filed the complaint with the Prime Minister’s Office Grievance Portal on behalf of oneYashmeen regarding the non-fulfillment of the announcement of free gas cylinders for April-June, 2020 as per announcement dated 26 March, 2020. In the said complaint the petitioner submitted that Yashmeen had received a subsidy amount of Rs. 162.43 for the month of April, 2020 but the balance amount of Rs. 581.57 for April, 2020; Rs. 581.50 for May, 2020 and Rs 593 for June, 2020 had not been credited to make the gas cylinders free.

However, on 13.07.2020 IOCL vide letter dated 13.07.2020 replied to the Petitioner’s complaint regarding the non-supply of free LPG cylinders and stated that the scheme for free LPG cylinders was available to customers who had been issued LPG connections under the Ujjwala scheme. It was further stated that since Yashmeen was a customer of a general category, she was not eligible to avail the benefit of the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojna Scheme.

Thus, the Petitioner has filed the said petition praying for a writ of mandamus to be issued to the respondents, i.e., Ministry of Finance, Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas to direct them to conduct an identification exercise qua non PMJDY account holders as well as non-Ujjwala subscribers that are eligible for the benefits of the Relief Package and extend the benefits of the same to the eligible people after said identification. 

The matter has now been put up on October 28, 2022

Case Title:- Aakash Goel v Union of India & Ors.