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Punjab govt’s decision to distribute smartphones to youth reaches HC

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

Punjab government’s decision to distribute smartphones to youth of the state has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the way of filing a plea citing the move a wasteful expenditure.

Through a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), advocate Hari Chand Arora has sought a restraint order against implementation of the smartphone distribution by the state government.

The petitioner has alleged in his plea that Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Amarinder Singh made an announcement on the floor of Punjab Assembly on 27 March that the state government would provide Smartphones to the youth between the age of 18 to 35 years from families with annual income up to Rs Six Lakh, in a phased manner, provided that they have passed matriculation.

The petitioner said, thus, the state government is likely to indulge into wasteful expenditure of around Rs 150 Crore, for providing 15 Lakh smart phones, even if it is presumed that smart phone would cost Rs 1,000 each to the government.

Thus, according to petitioner, on one hand, the state government has enacted a legislation recently for levying a development tax at the rate of Rs 200 per month on Income Tax Payees, to fetch around Rs 100 Crore during a year, and on the other hand, it is going to indulge into a wasteful expenditure of at least Rs 150 Crore on distribution of smartphones to youth.

The petitioner referred to a circular dated 15 January, 2015 which the new recruits in government jobs were to be paid salaries at reduced rates, simply because of financial constraints, thereby promulgating a type of undeclared financial emergency in the state.

He also referred to the unrest amongst teachers, who are being pressurised to accept regularisation in the jobs on the condition that during first three years, on regularisation, they would be paid only the basic salary of Rs 10,300 per month.

He further alleged that Sarpanches of Gram Panchayats have not been paid honorarium since July, 2013. The old age pension is not being released to the beneficiaries regularly.