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Hooch cash in post offices

Calcutta, Sept. 28: Calcutta High Court today directed the government to deposit Rs 2 lakh for a year in a post office account in the name of the next of kin of each of the 172 Diamond Harbour hooch victims and allow the beneficiaries to collect monthly interest.

The court, which hopes to dispose of the case in a year, lifted its stay on the payment of compensation to the families of the hooch victims and asked the government to deposit the money under the monthly income scheme (MIS) run by post offices.

“The district magistrate of South 24-Parganas will deposit the money under the MIS scheme of the post offices in the name of the next of kin of each hooch victim,” the division bench of Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Jaymalya Bagchi said in its judgment.

The bench said the account holders would not be able to withdraw the principal during the one-year period. “If the state lose the case, the government will have to withdraw the amounts deposited in the accounts of the legal heirs of the victims. If the state wins the case, the account holders will be allowed to withdraw the money after one year, subject to permission of this court,” the bench added.

Under the post office MIS scheme, 9 per cent interest is given, which means each family will get Rs 1,500 a month.

The court made the temporary arrangement apprehending delay in disposal of the case, the bench said.

Advocate Chittaranjan Panda had moved a PIL challenging the legality of the government’s decision to pay compensation.

When the case came up for hearing again today, government pleader Ashok Banerjee said poor villagers who had lost their bread-winners were starving.