Taking exception to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's statement, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asserted that it had ordered free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing them to rot in godowns and it was not a suggestion as made out by him.
"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the Minister," the court told the government counsel.
A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Verma referring to newspaper reports that the Union Minister had claimed there was no such order, clarified that it did pass such an order.
Pawar had said, "The Supreme Court's suggestion (for free grain) is not possible to implement."
The apex court in an order directed the Union government to conduct a fresh survey of the BPL/ABPL/AAY beneficiaries on the basis of the figures available for 2010 and said the authorities cannot rely on a decade-old data to extend the benefits.
The bench further said that the government must take urgent steps to prevent further rotting of food grains while maintaining that it must procure only that much quantity which it can preserve.
The bench reiterated its earlier order that persons above poverty line shall not be entitled to subsidised foodgrains but if the government was determined to extend the benefit, the same shall be given to those families whose annual income is below Rs 3 lakhs.