The Supreme Court on Tuesday suggested scrapping the Above Poverty Line category (APL) and extending the benefit of subsidised ration through fair price shops to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders only.
A bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari gave two weeks time to the Centre for responding to the court's advice and asked it to consider raising the limit for BPL. The court further told the government that it must consider the National Advisory Council's recommendations while responding to the court query.
The suggestion came after the court perused Justice Wadhwa committee's report on the pilferage and corruption in the public distribution system and its recommendations to improve it. Justice Wadhwa in his report has recommended raising the cap for qualifying as BPL.
Reacting to the report, the bench said: "Those above APL need not be given this facility because they can afford to purchase ration from the market. Why not abolish APL and concentrate only on the BPL. Sixty per cent of the population are APL cardholders. They are getting this facility unnecessarily."
The court said if ration-card was no longer an identity proof, the government can immediately stop issuing them for APLs. However, if it wants to continue with issuing the card, the court felt the government should adopt a mechanism to distinguish a BPL cardholder from an APL.
The bench also asked for the Centre's response on other recommendations made by the Justice Wadhwa committee including computerisation of the PDS to eradicate pilferage and corruption in the system.
It asked the government to prosecute those indulging in pilferage.