Centre's grain, no L-G nod: HC sets aside Delhi govt's doorstep delivery scheme

Reported by Richa Banka | Written by Sohini Goswami
May 19, 2022 03:07 PM IST

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and justice Jasmeet Singh said the scheme for home delivery of ration, did not have the approval of the lieutenant governor.

The Delhi high court on Thursday set aside the Aam Aadmi Party-led government's doorstep delivery of ration scheme, stating that the Centre's grain cannot be used for this scheme.

File photo of the Delhi high court.
File photo of the Delhi high court.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and justice Jasmeet Singh said the scheme for home delivery of ration, did not have the approval of the lieutenant governor. 

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The judgment came on a plea by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh challenging the doorstep ration delivery scheme of the government, headed by Arvind Kejriwal.

The plea by the group of FPS owners had challenged the scheme and demanded that it be declared ultra vires (beyond one’s legal power or authority).

The Delhi government’s doorstep delivery of ration scheme had remained stalled due to differences between the Delhi government and the Centre.

The scheme was set to be launched on March 25, 2021, but the Union food and consumer affairs ministry wrote to the Delhi government on March 19 raising two objections— the use of the term “mukhyamantri (chief minister)” for a scheme involving the distribution of food grains allocated under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), and that any change in the delivery mechanism required an amendment in the NSFA that can be done only by Parliament.

The scheme had become a flashpoint between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre and the AAP rulers in Delhi, with the former saying that the plan violated provisions of the NFSA and would deprive migrants of foodgrains, and the latter pointing out that it would root out the ration mafia and ensure that all beneficiaries received their share.

On November 15, the Supreme Court had declined to entertain two separate petitions (one by the Centre and another by FPS owners) against a Delhi high court interim order on September 27 that allowed the AAP government to stop supplying foodgrain to fixed price shops for patrons who have chosen doorstep delivery over physical collection of ration. The high court interim order also effectively gave a go-ahead to the state government scheme.

The lieutenant governor  had earlier opposed the plea and told the high court that his repeated advice to the Delhi government to address the violation of National Food Security Act (NFSA), flagged by the union government in the implementation of the doorstep delivery of ration scheme, have not been considered by the council of ministers.

Defending its doorstep delivery of ration scheme, the city government had told the court that with the march of technology, doorstep delivery has become a norm, which should be appreciated instead of criticized. It said that from the last two years everything is being delivered at home.

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