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Considering the distress caused by the ongoing lockdown, the Delhi High Court has directed the State Government to ensure that all ration shops remain operational and disburse PDS food grains in accordance with the policy. (Delhi Rozi- Roti Adhikar Abhiyan vs UOI)
It has further directed the State Government to ensure delivery of the requisite food grains from the PDS ration shops, on a regular basis between 09:00 a.m. to 01:00 p.m. and 03:00 p.m. to 07:00 p.m., on all seven days of the week.
The order was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh in an application by Delhi Rozi- Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, concerning widespread violation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 during the lockdown.
The application forms part of a 2017 writ petition which challenges the Centre's move making Aadhaar mandatory for accessing subsidized food grains under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The Applicant asserted that denial of access to food grains and other key resources, coupled with the lack of necessary grievance redressal measures, was determinantal to the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.
The Applicant thus sought directions to the authorties to take all possible steps to alleviate the suffering of among the poor during lockdown.
After hearing the counsel for the Applicants, the Court today issued notice to the Central and State Government in the application and directed them to file their response within a period of three working days.
The Court also heard the counsel on behalf of the Respondents, particularly counsel appearing on behalf of Delhi Government, at length and observed,
".. the distress caused to the residents of the city, by the ongoing lockdown imposed in order to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, has been further aggravated by the stated denial of access to food grain to the poor, under-privileged and marginalized sections of the populace, even though we are informed at the Bar that, the GNCTD is undertaking necessary steps to alleviate their suffering through various measures.."
The Court thus proceeded to direct that in the meantime, State Government must ensure that all ration shops remain operational and disburse PDS food grains as per the policy.
The other directions passed by the Court in this regard are as follows:
- Delhi Government must ensure that food grains are distributed to the poor, needy and marginalized non-PDS residents from the PDS, as well as, other distribution centers stated to be set-up by them, for the said purpose.
- Sub-Divisional Magistrates of each district shall carry out strict and regular monitoring and oversight of the distribution of food grains and upload the details of shop-wise distribution of ration to both the PDS and non-PDS residents on their official website, at the end of each day.
- Delhi Government shall widely publicize and circulate the information qua the compliance of these directions, both through the print and electronic media, on a daily basis.
- Delhi Government is also directed to immediately place on their official website, as well as publicize through the print and electronic media, Grievance Helpline Numbers, so as to enable members of the public to seek redressal of their grievances.
- Aggrieved persons may contact the Nodal Officers appointed for that purpose, whose details shall also be placed in the public domain.
- The Nodal Officers shall address the grievances so received and respond to the persons aggrieved, by placing on the official website the action taken by them in that behalf.
The matter would be heard next on May 6.
Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh appeared for the Applicant along with Advocate Prasanna S.
Centre was represented by Advocate BS Shukla.
Delhi Government was represented by Advocate Anuj Aggarwal.
Read the order: