New Delhi: The Centre today confronted a furious Supreme Court after its lawyer did not show up for a hearing on drought. “Show some seriousness…are we useless?” the judges berated as the Centre requested more time saying the Additional Solicitor General was busy in another courtroom.
“Is this like cattle or something? Go here, go there. This is not your priority? Two judges are sitting here. You expect us to do nothing and just keep looking at the watch waiting for time to pass?” the judges questioned angrily.
Soon after the rebuke, Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand came rushing in and said she was ready to argue. The court said: “Don’t argue for 15 minutes and leave. Our time is also precious.”
The court is hearing a petition by former Aam Aadmi Party leader Yogendra Yadav’s organization Swaraj Abhiyaan, which asks for relief for farmers at a time 10 states have declared drought.
On Wednesday, the court had told the government that it can’t turn a blind eye to the crisis in nearly a dozen states and asked for a report on its performance in drought relief.
The petition alleges that the Centre has “squeezed the jobs guarantee scheme MNREGA virtually dry” by starving states of funds, with a huge backlog of wage payments from last year yet to be cleared.
“People are migrating due to distress because they don’t have jobs. This is forced migration,” said senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan.
The Centre has said it will release almost 8,000 crore by the weekend to clear pending wage dues and also give another 3000 crore to states for new works under the job scheme.