State Marriage Assistance Scheme: On Court’s directions, govt to disburse financial aid quicker

Sahil Rasgotra. Updated: 12/7/2017 1:55:02 AM Front Page

JAMMU: Nearly five months after the State High Court admonished it for delay in processing the marriage assistance applications, the government on Wednesday revised the timelines for State Marriage Assistance Scheme (SMAS) so as to ensure implementation of the welfare scheme aimed at providing financial support to poor girls to help with their marriages.
The prestigious scheme, which was launched in 2015 and has helped around 6589 girls till August this year, envisages one-time financial assistance of Rs 25,000 and five gram gold from the state's Social Welfare Department (SWD) for poor girls living below the poverty line who may not find themselves in a position to marry due to financial constraints.
However, with the complaints of delay in processing the application and then disbursement of financial aid to the applicants plaguing the scheme since long, the government has revised the timelines, in a circular that was issued today, in the backdrop of it being pulled up by the State High Court on more than one occasion in the recent past.
The court on July 15 had directed the government, while hearing a Public Interest Litigation, to decide the marriage assistance application and disburse the amount in the beneficiary account within a week.
“If marriage of a girl is to be take place in September and application is processed the next year then what is the fun of having such scheme,” the court had remarked.
When the government filed an affidavit in the court, on July 31, it asked it to improvise the same and make the entire process lesser complex.
The court pointed out that in its earlier directions it had made clear that the government should take “We had asked that the government should take one week to process the application of a candidate and at the end of the next week she should get the assistance. But you have complicated things. It is now a more complicated process than mere submitting of an affidavit by a candidate indicating that that her marriage is going to happen shortly,” the court had observed.
Finally, it was on Wednesday that the government rolled out the revised timelines in line with court’s direction.
According to the revised timelines, a period of three working days has been fixed for district social welfare officer, six working days for sanctioning authority (Deputy Commissioner) while five working days have been fixed for director finance, social welfare department to dispose of the cases under the SMAS.
The government has also issued strict directions to all the concerned officials for ensuring strict adherence to the revised guidelines and, according to the circular, any deviation in this regard would be dealt strictly as per the Law.
Also, the norms for availing benefit under the scheme include that the prospective beneficiary girl should be above 18 years of age and identified as poor in the survey list available with the concerned district development commissioners and district social welfare officers.

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