Madhya Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Mohammed Rafiq CJ and Vijay Kumar Shukla J. issues notice to the State in the case challenging Clause 3.3 of Mukhyamantri COVID 19 Bal Kalyan Scheme.

 A petition has been filed impugning the legality and validity of Clause 3.3 of Mukhyamantri COVID 19 Bal Kalyan Scheme to the extent it defines “death due to COVID-19” as any death which has occurred between 1-03-2021 to 30-06-2021 for the purpose of determining the eligibility of a beneficiary under the said Scheme. The cutoff date prescribed in clause 3.3 is unreasonable , arbitrary and violated the protection granted under Article 14 of the Constitution of India being discriminatory in the matter of distribution of Government Largesse.

The scheme is primarily intended to grant financial benefits in the form of concessions or otherwise to children or students who have been orphaned due to the COVID 19 pandemic. Though the object of the Scheme is laudable and its coverage is wide, however, due to the restrictive definition of Covid 19 death as provided in clause 3.3, any child or student beneficiary who is otherwise eligible for grant of benefit under the Scheme would become ineligible simply for the reason that her/his parents or guardian have expired prior to the cutoff date from 1st March 2021. Thus, the prescription of a cutoff date from 1st March 2021 onwards defies the benevolent object of the Scheme itself as it excludes from its benefits those children and students who have lost their Parents/Guardians to COVID 19 prior to the said date.

It is a fact within public knowledge that the COVID 19 pandemic had already started spreading its wings in India in early 2020 and the State of Madhya Pradesh recorded its 1st case in March 2020. In fact, the definition of COVID 19 death as prescribed in clause 3.3 is wide enough to include within its sweep any death which has occurred during the cut off period of 1-03-2021 to 30-06-2021, therefore it cannot be assumed that no such COVID 19 death of children parents/legal guardians occurred prior to the cut off dates when the pandemic was raging in India as well as in the State of Madhya Pradesh.

The case was heard through video conferencing wherein Mr. P.K Kumar Advocate General appeared and accepted notice on behalf of the respondents and sought time to seek instructions and file counter affidavit which was thereby granted.

The matter is next posted for 30-06-2021.[Dharmesh Basedia v. State of Madhya Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine MP 1213, decided on 21-06-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Siddharth Gulatee, Advocate for the petitioner

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