New Delhi, The Supreme Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking the enforcement of the Centre’s post-matric scholarship scheme for Scheduled Caste (SC) students in Bihar. The court, emphasizing the separation of powers, asserted that it cannot compel the government to allocate funds for the optional execution of the scheme.
A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta expressed sympathy for the concept of scholarships for marginalized students but clarified that the judiciary cannot intervene if the state government deems the implementation of the scheme unfeasible due to financial constraints.
“The government says that it does not have money. Can we force the government to give scholarships? Everybody likes scholarships, especially to the SC/ST children, but we cannot force them,” the bench remarked to senior counsel Sanjay Parikh, representing the petitioners.
Parikh argued for the implementation of the Centre’s “Freeship Card” scheme in Bihar, contending that the state government has arbitrarily limited the maximum amount of post-matric scholarships and has not adhered to the guidelines issued by the central government.
The court suggested an alternative course of action, stating, “Take it at a different level and not judicially…It’s not a matter for the courts.”
The PIL was filed by Rajeev Kumar and Youth for Dalit Adivasi Rights against the rejection of their plea by the Patna High Court in August 2023. The “Freeship Card” initiative aims to enhance the gross enrolment ratio of SC students in higher education, with funds shared between the Centre and states in a 60:40 ratio.
The High Court, in its August judgment, held that judicial orders cannot mandate the implementation of a scheme devised by the central government, leaving such decisions to the discretion of the state government. The state had introduced its own scholarship scheme for both SC and ST students.
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