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HC seeks government reply on PIL alleging siphoning of funds

The Bombay High Court warned the Maharashtra government of contempt action today, if it did not file its reply to a public interest litigation (PIL) which has alleged siphoning of funds and non-implementation of schemes meant to financially help scheduled castes to conduct business or trade.

Hearing the PIL, a bench headed by Justice Abhay noted that the Maharashtra government had earlier sought time to file an affidavit, but has not yet filed its reply.

Despite a last chance given to the Maharashtra government, it has once again failed to file any affidavit. If no affidavit is filed on August 1, then the Bombay High Court would be compelled to take action against the Secretary of the Social Justice Department of Maharashtra, for contempt of court, the judges said.

The PIL filed by Chetan Kamble, who heads Bhimshakti Vichar Manch, alleged that the Maharashtra government had announced a scheme to provide financial help to members of the scheduled caste (SC) community to do business or trade.

Under the scheme, a society of such SC members is supposed to contribute five per cent, the Maharashtra Government contributes 35 per cent, another 35 per cent would be sanctioned as long term loans and the balance 25 per cent would come from financial institutions as a long term loan.

Though the scheme benefited members of societies of scheduled caste communities during the period 2004-05 to 2010-11, it was noticed that monies were siphoned off and funds disbursement was stopped by the authorities under one pretext or the other, the PIL alleged.

The petitioner prayed for a directive to the Maharashtra state government to implement the scheme for the benefit of scheduled caste members.

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