A Supreme Court-appointed committee has warned six states of punitive action if they fail to provide adequate subsidised foodgrains to the poorest of the poor under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
Harsh Mander and NC Saxena, special commissioners to the court, found that the number of beneficiaries under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) – a scheme for distributing subsidised food to poorest of the poor – has come down in Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Odisha, Delhi and West Bengal after implementation of the NFSA.
This ran contrary to the law enacted by the erstwhile UPA government.
Under the AAY scheme, around 2.5 crore households across the country are entitled to 35 kg of foodgrains every month.
In letters written to the chief secretaries of six states, the commissioners pointed out that “denial of entitlement under the scheme amounts to violation of fundamental rights”. They also said there was a shortfall in the coverage due to confusion regarding the “ceiling in the scheme”.
Mander and Saxena said the confusion was due to a notification by the Centre, which reduced the number of beneficiaries. But, all the entitlements under scheme were restored in October.
“Any arbitrary denial of entitlements would be a violation of SC orders, NFSA and legal rights of the beneficiaries,” the letter said