Treat as representation PIL against Jan Dhan account as sole criterion for relief under PMGKY: HC to Centre

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New Delhi, Feb 2 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Tuesday asked the Centre to treat as representation a PIL which has contended that having a Jan Dhan account should not be the only criterion for identifying the poor for receiving ex-gratia under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana (PMGKY).

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked the Finance Ministry or the authority concerned to treat the petition as a representation and to decide it as expeditiously as possible.

With the direction the court disposed of the plea by Delhi resident Akash Goel who had contended that the condition of having a PMJDY account as a pre-requisite for availing the ex-gratia of Rs 500 under the PMGKY was an 'exclusionary' criterion.

Advocate Ajit Sharma, appearing for Goel, told the bench that while PMGKY was a good scheme, it excluded those economically backward women or persons who do not have a Jan Dhan account. 'The exclusionary nature of using PMJDY as the sole identifier/criterion of poor persons for the purpose of welfare schemes is emphasized by the fact that PMJDY is a scheme to bank the 'unbanked' hence persons who were already account holders when PMJDY was announced in 2014 are/were ineligible to open a PMJDY account.

'Consequently, such persons have been rendered ineligible to avail benefits of welfare schemes including the cash transfer announced for poor women under PMGKY, 2020 announced by the Finance Minister wherein cash would be transferred only in accounts of women who are active PMJDY account holders,' said the petition, filed through advocate Mayank Aggarwal.

Goel had also said in his plea that since the government was directly transferring funds, subsidy or welfare measures into the accounts of poor and needy persons, 'there is an immediate need to ease the process of opening of or conversion into PMJDY accounts'. 'Alternatively, an SOP for dealing with exceptions should be mandatorily created to ensure that poor persons who do not possess an active PMJDY account may also avail benefits of government welfare measures/schemes by use of some other identification criteria,' the petition had said.

It had contended that the said scheme (PMGKY) 'in its current form is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India as it unjustifiably and illegally excludes persons in the same class i.e. poor women' who are the intended beneficiaries of the said scheme from claiming benefit of the same. PTI HMP SA