MY KOLKATA EDUGRAPH
ADVERTISEMENT
regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Let there not be a contest between the Union and the state, says SC while hearing Karnataka's plea for drought funds release

The bench noted that the top law officers, who were appearing on advance notice, have stated that they would seek instruction and make a statement before the court on the next date

PTI New Delhi Published 08.04.24, 04:25 PM
Supreme Court of India.

Supreme Court of India. File picture.

Let there not be a "contest" between the Union and the state, the Supreme Court said on Monday while hearing the Karnataka government's plea seeking a direction to the Centre to release financial assistance from the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) to the state for drought management.

A bench of Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta was told by Attorney General R Venkataramani and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who were appearing for the Centre, that they would seek instructions in the matter.

ADVERTISEMENT

The apex court, which observed that various state governments were required to approach the court, initially asked the Centre to file a response to Karnataka's plea.

Urging the court to take up the matter after two weeks, the solicitor general said they would take instructions in the matter.

"Let there not be a contest between the Union and the state," the bench said.

Mehta said instead of filing a petition in the top court, if somebody would have spoken to the authorities on the issue, the problem could have been resolved.

"We have seen various state governments are required to approach the court," the bench observed.

Mehta said, "I don't wish to say why, but this is a growing tendency…".

When the bench orally said it would issue notice to the Centre, the solicitor general said, "Your lordships may not issue notice. It also becomes news. We are here".

The bench noted that the top law officers, who were appearing on advance notice, have stated that they would seek instruction and make a statement before the court on the next date.

It posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.

The petition has also sought to declare that the Centre's action in not releasing the financial assistance for drought arrangement as per the NDRF is "ex-facie violative" of the fundamental rights of the people of the state guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

It said the state is reeling under "severe drought", affecting the lives of its people and for the Kharif 2023 season, which starts in June and ends in September, a total of 223 out of 236 taluks are declared as drought-affected.

The plea said 196 taluks are categorised as severely affected and the remaining 27 as moderately affected.

"Cumulatively for kharif 2023 season, the agriculture and horticulture crop loss have been reported in more than 48 lakh hectares with the estimated loss (cost of cultivation) of Rs 35,162 crore," the plea, filed through advocate D L Chidananda, said.

It said the assistance sought from Government of India under the NDRF is Rs 18,171.44 crore.

"In terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Union of India is under obligation to render financial assistance to the state governments," the plea, settled by senior advocate Devdatt Kamat and state's Advocate General K Shashi Kiran Shetty, said.

It said the state is constrained to move the apex court against the "arbitrary actions" of the Centre in denying the financial assistance for drought management to Karnataka under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and the manual for drought management updated in 2020.

"Further, the impugned action of the Central Government is violative of statutory scheme of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, the manual for drought management and the guidelines on constitution and administration of the State Disaster Response Fund and National Disaster Response Fund," the plea said.

It said under the manual for drought management, the Centre is required to take a final decision on the assistance to the state from the NDRF within a month of the receipt of the inter-ministerial central team (IMCT).

"Despite the IMCT report, which visited various drought affected districts from October 4 to 9, 2023 and made a comprehensive assessment of drought situation in the state and consideration of the said report by the sub-committee of the National Executive Committee constituted under section 9 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Centre has not taken a final decision on the assistance to the state from the NDRF even after a lapse of almost six months from the date of the said report," the plea said.

It alleged that inaction on the part of the Centre to act on the report and take a final decision to release financial assistance to the state is "ex-facie illegal, arbitrary, and violative of fundamental rights" guaranteed to its citizens under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

Follow us on:
ADVERTISEMENT