Doorstep Ration Delivery: Supreme Court rejects Centre's appeal against interim order on Delhi govt scheme

Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Singhvi appearing on behalf of Delhi government, assured the court that the scheme will not be implemented till the High Court hears the matter on Monday.
Delhi Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna
Delhi Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna

The Supreme Court refused to entertain the Central government's plea against the Delhi government's scheme of home delivery of ration, since the same is slated to be heard by the Delhi High Court on Monday, November 22 (Union of India vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Ors.)

"We are not inclined to go further with these SLPs since it is listed before the High Court on November 22, 2021 as both parties have agreed they will not seek an adjournment. We've told Dr. Singhvi that implementation will not happen before Monday. Dismissed," the Court stated.

The Bench also noted that the order under challenge was an interim order and the matter would be heard again by the High Court on November 22.

The Central government had approached the Supreme Court against the High Court's interim order of September 27 (Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh Vs. The Commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies and Ors.) by which it had, after noting that a large number of people had opted for doorstep delivery of ration, allowed cutting down supplies to Fair Price Shops.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta representing the Central government, argued that the Delhi Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna is in contravention of the National Food Security Act, 2013 since it removes fair price shops from the process, as supply is made by private agencies. He claimed that the Electronic Point-of-Sale (E-POS) system, that was put in place at the fair price shops to ensure that ration is not diverted, is being done away with.

"You are not supposed to remove fair price shops from this system. They have E-POS system to maintain transparency. The entire act is based on it. Private agents delivering door-to-door to whom, what quality, what quantity, no one knows," the Solicitor-General argued.

Appearing for Delhi government, Senior Advocate Dr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi refuted Mehta's claims, saying that the act makes Centre the supplier but intra-state distribution is the State's mandate. He further added that if the state is willing to deliver ration at zero cost and ninety per cent of the populace wants it, the Centre should not have any issue with it.

"Huge leakage, diversion to black marketeers are the bugs here. To stop that we are having home delivery. Those who want to get from the shops still have that option," Dr. Singhvi said.

He also refuted the Solicitor-General's claim that the scheme would be a hinderance to the One Nation, One Ration Card scheme.

"E-POS was only stopped for a little while for ensuring verification and prevention of diversion. Delhi government's scheme system is end to end computerized to a fault. It is based on biometric verification. E-POS machine is still being used," Dr. Singhvi clarified.

Mehta further argued that a sample survey of hundred persons was taken out of which about forty opted for home delivery so the High Court granted permission. Dr. Singhvi mentioned that 69 lakh out of the 71 lakh people surveyed opted for home delivery.

"Liquor can be delivered at home and food can't be?" Dr. Singhvi asked.

Dr. Singhvi assured the bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice BR Gavai that the scheme has not started in full swing and in any case, will not be on the road by Monday.

He mentioned that the Union of India had given a written objection to the scheme being named "Mukhyamantri Ghar Ghar ration Yojna", so the name was changed.

The writ petition in the High Court was filed by the Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh, and not the Union of India.

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