CHENNAI: A vacation bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday refused to pass an interim stay on a move by the Government of Tamil Nadu to send 40,000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka which has been facing a huge economic catastrophe and subsequent turmoil due to public protest.
While heading the vacation bench along with Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, Justice GR Swaminathan passed the direction on hearing a petition filed by A Jaishankar a resident of Thirukkannamangai in Tiruvarur district.
The petitioner prayed for a direction to quash a GO of the State government dated May 9 to procure 40,000-tonne rice for sending the same to Sri Lanka. He further alleged that the officials have decided to procure rice at an exorbitant rate against Tamil Nadu Transparency in Tenders Act and a probe should be launched against officials.
However, the judges refused to pass an injunction restraining the state from sending the rice grains to the island nation.
The judges passed the direction after hearing the submission of the government advocate that the TN Transparency in Tenders Act gives exemptions to the government during emergencies.
"Sri Lanka is under an emergency and its people are facing hardships. Therefore, the Go TN is to extend a helping hand to Sri Lanka with the permission of the union government, " the State submitted.
The petitioner submitted that after the Chief Minister announced in the State Assembly to send 40000 tonnes of rice to Sri Lanka, the Finance Department released a GO for allocating Rs.132 crores from millers. "With this, the State will procure per kg of rice at a cost of Rs.33.40. The Food Corporation of India is providing per kg of rice at a price of Rs.20. If the rice was procured from the FCI, the State could have saved Rs.54 crore, " the petitioner submitted.
He further added that the government had violated transparency in the tenders act and threatened people who questioned the act of government. When the activists questioned this issue, the state warned that the FCI rice is of substandard quality and action will be initiated against people who spread objectionable information about rice procurement, according to the petitioner.
On recording the submissions, the bench adjourned the matter to post vacations.