The Delhi High Court today sought the response of the center and a body of government ration dealers on a plea seeking to recall an order directing the state to disclose particulars of PDS beneficiaries to the fair price shops licensees.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh issued notice on the application of the state government and asked the center and Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Association to file their replies and listed the matter for further hearing on November 22.
The court was informed by central government standing counsel Monika Arora that the center has been challenged before the Supreme Court the Delhi High Court’s September 27 order by which it had modified the March 22 order directing the AAP government not to stop or curtail the supply of food grains or flour to fair price shop owners.
She said that as per the National Food Security Act, the center gives food grains to states which have to take it from the godown of the Food Corporation of India to deliver it to the doorsteps of fair price shops for distributing it to the beneficiaries.
Ms Arora said the Delhi government’s home delivery of ration scheme is contrary to the Act and other states, including West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, have different schemes than that of the Delhi government.
The bench said, “We are informed by advocate Monika Arora that against the high court’s September 27 order, the Center has preferred an SLP and it was mentioned before the Supreme Court today and has been directed to be listed on November 9. The status of those proceedings be also indicated in the report. List on November 22.”
The Delhi government has filed the application seeking to recall the September 27 order requiring disclosure of particulars of the beneficiaries to the FPS licensees, including to members of the petitioner association. It has argued that it will be counterproductive to share the details of beneficiaries who have already opted for the scheme with the association as there is little doubt that this data will then be misused in order to ensure that the present model of public distribution continues and any reforms thereto are stymied and prevented.
Defending its Doorstep Delivery of Ration in the National Capital territory Scheme, the Delhi government said the scheme is for the poor who are now being threatened by fair price shop owners to opt out of the home delivery mode otherwise they will not be given ration.
During the hearing, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Rahul Mehra, representing the Delhi government, said since there is rampant corruption and inefficiency in the extant model of the Public Distribution System (PDS) which results in huge leakages and siphoning off of subsidised food grains , the scheme will ensure that clean packages of rice and wheat reach to poor people.
The Delhi government said 69 lakh out of 72 lakh people have registered for the home delivery scheme which is a voluntary scheme.
“It should be asked why poor and marginalised people should not be allowed to have a clean package of rice and wheat,” argued Mr Mehra.
The Delhi government said it was not shying away from sharing the details of persons who have opted for the Doorstep Delivery Scheme with the court.
The high court had on September 27 directed the Delhi government to issue communications to all the fair price shop dealers informing them of the particulars of ration cardholders who have opted to receive their rations at doorsteps.
It had said only thereafter, the fair price shops dealers are not required to be supplied with the ration of the PDS beneficiaries who have opted for doorstep delivery.
The Delhi government scheme for doorstep delivery of ration, Mukhymantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna, has been challenged by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Association.