The Delhi High Court on Tuesday criticised the Aam Aadmi Party government for providing free water and electricity to citizens while it lacks the funds to pay monthly pensions to poor people who suffer from Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS, PTI reported.
“Be realistic and reasonable,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said. “If you do not have money, then do not give things like water and electricity free to people,” It said that the amount of Rs 1,000 per month currently being paid to poor patients with AIDS was not sufficient, and asked the state government to consider providing them minimum wages.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation it initiated after receiving a letter from an AIDS patient. The author said his pension should be increased from Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 per month.
Court-appointed amicus curiae Ajay Verma told the bench that while states like Kerala and Gujarat had promulgated several schemes and benefits for AIDS patients – like free travel on public transport and access to subsidised food – Delhi did not provide any such assistance. The Delhi government’s lawyer, Gautam Narayan, in turn told the bench that the administration was deliberating on the issue.
The high court then asked the government counsel to place the results of the deliberations before it on March 14, the next date of the hearing.