The payments were stopped in January 2019 shortly after the Bhupesh Baghel government came to power in the state
The Chhattisgarh government has scrapped a special pension scheme launched by the BJP administration in 2008 for those detained under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the Emergency.
Under the Loknayak Jaiprakash Narayan (MISA/Defence of India Rules (DIR) DIR detainees) Samman Nidhi Rule, which was repealed on January 23, people who spent three months in jail under MISA provisions during the Emergency were being given Rs 10,000 per month. Those imprisoned for six months got Rs 15,000 per month and those jailed for over six months Rs 25,000, officials said.
In January 2019, the government stopped the payments, after which the beneficiaries moved court.
“The High Court in its interim order in December said that the MISA detainees are a symbol of what happened during the Emergency. The Congress government might think of them as Opposition but they are journalists and college professors too. They are rewarded for dissent,” said Supriya Upasane, a lawyer representing the beneficiaries.
The cases, currently sub-judice, are expected to come up soon at the Bilaspur High Court.
“The government was asked to pay the detainees with arrears. The government was also given time to file a response till February,” Upasane said, adding that more than 350 beneficiaries, including widows of some detainees, used to received the pension.
Advocate General Satish Verma confirmed the government’s decision to scrap the scheme. “It was my suggestion to the government. We should not have to pay for people detained for law and order situations. The law was passed by a government and a new government can repeal that, it is allowed in the Constitution,” he said.
Asked to comment on the ongoing cases, he said, “The government has the power to make the decision. In the next hearing, we will inform the court that the law doesn’t remain in existence.”
In neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, the Congress government, immediately after coming to power, had put a pension scheme for Emergency detainees, on hold.
Following an uproar, the government said the pension had not been discontinued. It said it had ordered physical verification of every beneficiary and that there were many fake beneficiaries.
Pension was later resumed and beneficiaries were paid with arrears. BJP leader Tapan Bhowmik said the Kamal Nath government could not find a single ineligible beneficiary.
-With inputs from ENS, Bhopal