The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government on a PIL seeking a CBI probe into the marketing of diesel adulterated with kerosene by black-marketers in western Uttar Pradesh causing damage to atmosphere by pollution and also to the vehicles.
A bench of Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice Vikramajit Sen, while issuing notice, asked the PIL petitioner Seema Upadhyay to delete the references to Samajwadi Party legislator Devendra Aggarwal and his relative in the petition.
Noting that Upadhyaya was a Lok Sabha member belonging to Bahujan Samaj Party from Fatehpur Sikri (Agra), the court said that she could be absolutely right in what she was saying on the adulteration of diesel with kerosene but she could not make political mileage by roping in her political rivals.
“You may be absolutely right but you are trying to gain political mileage,” Justice Thakur said pointing out that Agarwal and his relative were focus of her petition, which had several allegations and insinuations against the two.
“You are talking about Hathras and not about Agra,” Justice Thakur asked as counsel Chandra Shekhar, appearing for Upadhyay, said that the outlets of public distribution system in the region were hand in glove with police and people enjoying political patronage.
The PIL said that because of the adulteration, the kerosene that should have been available to poor people from the public distribution system (PDS) outlets was not reaching them.
The court gave Chandra Shekhar two days time to delete the portion of the PIL making references to Agarwal and his relative.
A day after President Pranab Mukherjee promulgated the national food security ordinance, a petitioner claimed it was “unconstitutional” and urged the Supreme Court to quash it for allegedly being inspired by the UPA’s pre-poll propaganda.
Petitioner advocate Manohar Lal Sharma said that the constitutional provisions on powers of the president to promulgate ordinances during recess of parliament were only to deal with a situation requiring emergent legislations.
Describing the promulgation of the ordinance as “unconstitutional”, the petitioner contended that a bill to enact food security law was introduced in parliament in the first week of May but it was allegedly not pushed by the government.
Describing the government move as “malafide”, the petition asked if constitutional provisions could be allowed to be misused by the ruling parties for pre-election propaganda.
Recalling the earlier proceedings in the apex court on the working of the public distribution system (PDS) and its revamp, the petitioner said the government did not act in 2010 when the judges told it to distribute food grain free to the needy if there were inadequate provisions for its storage.
Sharma said millions of tonnes of wheat had rotten because procurement agencies did not have storage capacity.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today conducted searches at several places in Lucknow in connection with alleged irregularities in Public Distribution System (PDS) in the state.
Searches were conducted at 12 locations in Lucknow at the premises of some state food corporation employees and alleged middlemen, the CBI sources said.
The CBI has been investigating a case related to alleged food scam in the state in which PDS grain meant for the weaker sections of society was diverted to be sold in black market.
Central Bureau of Investigation has informed the Supreme Court that it has registered so far FIRs against 2,000 accused in the Uttar Pradesh foodgrain scam.
This is the highest number of accused registered in a single case.
The CBI has been handed over the investigation of about Rs 2 lakh crore scam under which the foodgrains meant for weaker sections of society to be distributed through Public Distribution System (PDS) network has been diverted to be sold in black market.
Top politicians, including Vinod Kumar Singh, a minister in Akhilesh Yadav government, his two brothers and former SP MLA Om Prakash Gupta are under the CBI scanner.
Petitioner Vishwanath Chaturvedi has alleged that there has been a large scale diversion of PDS foodgrains to black market through the nexus between politicians, bureaucrats and commission agents to deprieve the poor of foodgrains at subsidised rates.
The investigating agency has conducted raids and investigations so far in five cases only.
The petitioner contended that the main scam took place during the regime of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav.
The draft National Food Security Bill, which has been approved by the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM), has scant regard for children and does not assure their right to food security, activists of the Right to Food campaign said Monday.
“It appears that the government does not consider the specific issues related to the food security of children, who form about 40 percent of the population, or the vast problem of malnutrition,” said a statement by the Working Group for Children Under Six (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan – Right to Food Campaign).
“While the National Advisory Committee (NAC) draft had at least given due consideration to food entitlements for children, this draft is a pathetic attempt to pass off some expansion of the targeted Public Distribution System ( PDS) as a national law protecting national food security,” it added.
The Sonia Gandhi-led NAC finalised its draft of the bill which seeks to entitle nearly 75 percent of India’s population to subsidised foodgrains.
The major highlight of the draft bill is that it guarantees subsidized food grain to at least 90 percent of the rural households, and 50 percent of the urban households.
The EGoM recently approved the draft of the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) prepared by the Department of Food and Consumer Affairs which is slated to be placed before the cabinet.
“By providing for maternity entitlements, the NAC draft recognised this as a critical legal entitlement for over 15 crore women working in the informal sector and the food security of very young children. However, the draft of the ministry has entirely struck it off,” the statement said.
“Similarly, the current legal guarantee of hot cooked meals for children attending anganwadis has been diluted by providing the option of ready-to-eat food in this draft which suggests that the bill is more about creating markets and protecting corporate interests than the interests of children,” it added.
The draft bill, the statement said, minimises the government’s responsibilities, restricts children’s entitlements and avoids any accountability.”Contrary to the government’s claim that this draft bill is based on the NAC draft, it actually removes or dilutes most of the core principles of the NAC’s modest proposal,” it said.