SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has directed the authorities to provide specific details about the girls who have been provided Rs 25,000 and 5 gm of gold under State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) in the state.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench headed by Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar also directed the district social welfare officers (DSWOs) to file a report indicating status of the implementation of HUNNAR— a skill development scheme for the girls living below poverty line.
“It is again made clear that while providing assistance to the identified poor girls, the officers shall not insist on production of invitation card but as directed by the court earlier as substitute to ‘documentary evidence’, they can be asked to file an affidavit duly sworn before any Judicial Magistrate,” the court said, and posted the PIL for further consideration for week commencing May 2.
The court also directed the government to inform the poor girls about these schemes.
“It is you (officers) to inform these girls about the benefits of these schemes,” the bench, also comprising Justice Janak Raj Kotwal, said, and expressed displeasure over the Social Welfare Department’s failure in implementing the schemes at the ground level.
District social welfare officers of Srinagar, Ganderbal, and Budgam were present before the court. While DSWO Srinagar said that there are 7,000 poor and destitute girls in the summer capital of the state, the DSWOs of Ganderbal and Budgam put the number of these girls in the two central Kashmir districts at 7,500 and 53, respectively.
The government said that it has already identified 3, 73, 086 girls in the state and the court, in 2013, had asked it to formulate an exclusive scheme for them.
Besides directions about their marriage, the court had directed the government to formulate exclusive scheme for the girls and had laid down the broad parameters for it.
“Areas (should) be carved out in both urban and rural areas, which are in close proximity with each other, from where these girls have been identified. Two or three mohalla/wards in urban areas and one or two villages in rural areas can constitute a unit,” the court had said.
It had also directed government to carve out exclusive cooperative or other societies for the girls and for their benefits.
The amount required for launching these societies, court had directed shall be provided by the government.
“These girls, wherever required shall be imparted training in handicraft, tailoring, knitting, poultry and analogous and identified jobs,” the court had said, with a further direction that the products of these Societies shall be purchased by the Handicraft Department and Corporation of the state.
“The payments to these Societies/Cooperative Societies shall be made at the time of purchase of the products itself. Further profits earned by these government outlets shall be shared by Societies/Cooperative Societies in equal proportions.”
Lastly, the court had asked the government to provide all necessary paraphernalia to enable the girls to start the activities.
The court was hearing the PIL, which was initially a petition, seeking quashing of PSA order at the pre-execution stage against one Mohammad Amin Beigh, a resident of Kulgam in south Kashmir.
Beigh—who was running a private security agency— was ordered to be detained under the PSA by District Magistrate Srinagar on December 26, 2011 for indulging in immoral activities including physically exploiting poor girls as well as ‘supplying’ them to others.