HC asks DCs to leave ‘cozy chambers’ to inform poor girls about marriage scheme

HC asks DCs to leave ‘cozy chambers’ to inform poor girls about marriage scheme

Issues slew of directions for effective implementation of SMAS, seeks compliance by July 18   
SRINAGAR: The J&K high court on Monday issued a slew of directions for effective implementation of State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) for poor girls in Kashmir Valley even as it asked all the deputy commissioners to “leave cozy chambers and go door to door to inform the girls about the benefits of the scheme.”
“These poor girls have no idea that there is a scheme for them and once they know that they are getting money and the gold, they will come forward to avail it.  The point is that you should come out of your cozy chambers and step out and set an example by implementing the scheme,” said a bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey in an open court where Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar, Budgam, Kupwara, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Baramulla, Bandipora, Additional Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Director Social Welfare Department (SWD), Special Secretary to SWD, and all District Social Welfare Officers were present in person in compliance to court’s direction on last week.
However, Commissioner Secretary to Government, SWD could not come today as she, according to advocate general, was indisposed.
Under SMAS, an eligible poor girl beneficiary will be entitled to a one-time financial assistance of Rs 25,000 and five grams of gold from district social welfare officers (DSWOs), while Hunar is a skill development programme for the girls living below poverty line.
The respective Deputy commissioners also informed the court that in Srinagar, there are 10251 poor girls (with only 1201 of them informed about the SMAS), 18000 in Baramulla (889 application received),
Ganderbal 6404 with only six applications received, 7015 in Bandipora with 184 cases sanctioned, 7500 in Anantnag (no mention about information to the girts) 19100 in Kulgam (183 application received)
7726 in Pulwama (184 cases sanctioned), 10061 in Shopian (no mention for information to girls),
9250 in Kupwara (no mention about beneficiaries), Leh has 752 and Kargil 6678 poor girls.
Taking notice of sluggish progress in the implementation of the scheme by the DC ganderbal, the court said: “It shows insensitivity on your part. Go door to door to inform them (poor girls). If they are informed, they would approach you immediately.”
The Court also referred to the basic cause for issuance of directions for launching of SMAS as well as Hunar Scheme. It also impressed upon all the officers about sensitivity of the matter and its social importance.
“The officers were requested to send printed forms in accordance with the scheme with the name of identified girls printed on it through Anganwari Workers in the village and Ward Officers in the urban areas to the concerned identified girls and handover the form to her and collect the same within two or three days. The offices were also informed that the Court on 15 December 2015, in terms of para-3 of the order clarified that in Form-1, appended to the SMAS, it shall be deemed to have been added that in absence of any documentary evidence about the fixation of date of marriage, the beneficiary of the scheme, as substitute to “documentary evidence” can file an affidavit duly sworn before any Judicial Magistrate,” the bench said.
It was made clear that the affidavit would be sufficient evidence to enable the beneficiary of the scheme to get benefit under it. The court also made it clear that it is not necessary that the beneficiary of the scheme should mention the date of marriage.
Subsequently, in order to ensure effective implementation SMAS, the court directed that immediately after the application forms are received, the selection committee headed by District Development Commissioners shall consider them within week’s time and made recommendations within that week to the Social Welfare Department.
“Commissioner Secretary (SWD) shall transmit the amount in to the account numbers of the beneficiaries in whose favour recommendations are received from the concerned District Development Commissioners. The amount shall be transmitted in the accounts of beneficiaries within one week,” the court said in another direction.
In the penultimate direction, the court directed the Commissioner Secretary SWD to seek financial assistance from philanthropist. For the purpose, the court said, public shall be made aware about the SMAS scheme through print and electronic media.
“The Government shall ensure that required funds are released for implementation of the SMAS Scheme,” the court said in last direction and directed all the authorities  to file fresh compliance report on or before next date of hearing in the PIL in the week commencing July 18.
“The (government) to file compliance report in respect of implementation of HUNAR scheme,” the court added.