HC directs Delhi govt to file detailed report on supply of rations through PDS
The court also said that the government shall ensure that all ration shops remain operational and disburse food grains, in accordance with the policy formulated by the Centre and state government.Updated: Apr 28, 2020 12:08 IST
The Delhi High Court on Monday asked the Delhi government to file a detailed status report on the supply of rations through the public distribution system and other mechanisms, such as e-coupons, in response to a plea filed in this regard.
The plea sought effective and time-bound redressal of complaints pertaining to non-supply of rations and the urgent need for transparency in the distribution of foodgrains through the PDS and other mechanisms.
Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh sought the report on a plea filed by Rozi Roti Abhiyan Adhikaar, stating that people are not being able to get ration from fair price shops, which have shut due to non-availability of stock.
The plea also contended that due to the absence of any information in the public domain on the distribution of rations — in terms of who all have availed of the stipulated quantity — there is no way to determine whether stocks of ration have been provided to the targeted persons or if there has been any diversion.
Appearing for the Delhi government, additional standing counsel, Anuj Aggarwal, told the court that the Delhi government has been providing rations to 700,0000 cardholders and 300,0000 others, who do not have a card. He said that the fair price shops are open all days, during the designated time.
He also said that 100,0000 people are being given cooked food twice a day at the hunger centres. He submitted that volunteers are also deployed at fair price shops along with a representative of the local MLA.
The court asked the Delhi government to ensure that these steps are continued, and sought a detailed status report in this regard.
Justice Mridul observed that the distress caused to the residents of the city, by the ongoing lockdown imposed in order to contain the spread of the Covid-19, has been further aggravated by the stated denial of access to food grain to the poor, underprivileged and marginalised sections of the populace, even though the Delhi government is undertaking steps to alleviate their suffering.
The court also said that the government shall ensure that all ration shops remain operational and disburse food grains, in accordance with the policy formulated by the Centre and state government. It called for disbursal of the requisite food grains from PDS from 9am to 1pm and 3pm to 7pm on all days of the week.
“The Delhi government shall also ensure that food grains are distributed to the poor, needy and marginalised non-PDS residents from the PDS, as well as, other distribution centres stated to be set up by them, for the said purpose. It shall further ensure that the subdivisional magistrates of each district carry out strict and regular monitoring and oversight of the distribution of food grains, as afore directed and upload the details of the shop-wise distribution of ration to both the PDS and non-PDS residents on their official website, at the end of every day,” the order stated.
The plea also contended that the state government has failed to put in place a statutory grievance redressal framework, despite repeated orders of the Delhi High Court. The petition also sought the resumption of the midday meal scheme, which is a lifeline for children even under normal circumstance.
The court directed the government to immediately post grievance helpline numbers on their official website as well as publicise them through the print and electronic media, to enable members of the public, who may be aggrieved due to a lack of distribution of the food grains, to seek redressal of their grievances, by contacting the nodal officers concerned.
The court said that the nodal officers shall address the grievances and mention the steps taken to resolve problems on the website.
The next hearing in this matter is scheduled for May 6.