Fair price shop can’t be allotted to BPL card holder HC

delhi-high-courtWondering how a Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holder was given a fair price shop licence, the Delhi High Court ordered a departmental inquiry against the officers who issued him the BPL card. The court also cancelled the allotment of the shop.

Justice Manmohan, in the 7 March order, said the essential eligibility criteria stipulated that an applicant has to be financially sound for allotment of a Public Distribution System (PDS) outlet which “a BPL card holder cannot be”. “Certainly, if the state has a scheme or reservation for the economically weaker sections or for the educated unemployed, then a BPL card holder can be considered for allotment.
But as long as the essential eligibility criteria stipulates that an applicant has to be financially sound for allotment of a PDS outlet, this court is of the view that a BPL card holder cannot be considered for allotment of a fair price shop licence,” the court said.
The court expressed amazement that the man obtained a BPL card in one day and after a few days declared himself to be financially sound even without surrendering the BPL card. “Consequently, this court directs the chief secretary of Delhi government to appoint a relatively senior officer to conduct a departmental inquiry against the officials who took the decision to allot the BPL card and fair price shop in question.
If any official is found to be negligent or remiss in his duty, a suitable entry in his service record is directed to be made,” said the court. The court was hearing a plea filed by one Poonam, who had applied for a fair price shop but was unsuccessful.
The plea was filed against the Delhi government, department of food and supplies, and the man allotted the shop despite being a BPL card holder. The petitioner told the court that allotment of a fair price shop to the man having a BPL card is violative of a rule of the Delhi Specified Articles (Regulation of Distribution) Order, 1981. It further alleged the government did not ascertain proper facts before issuing the shop licence.
However, the government counsel contended that elaborate procedures were followed by the department of food and supplies before awarding the fair price shop to the man. The petitioner said for purpose of allocation of fair price shop, the man who was allotted the shop had shown a bank balance of Rs.70,315 as well as the ownership of a car and a house and paid advance rent of Rs.6,600 for the shop.
The court said the man cannot be “both a BPL card holder and at the same time own a car, house as well as bank balance of Rs.70,315 and pay rent of Rs.6,600 for a shop”. “This court is of the view that a BPL card holder cannot be considered financially sound as the state (government) has devised the concept of BPL to provide state subsidy to support such sort of people,” said Justice Manmohan.
(Source: IANS)

SC issues notice on diesel adulteration in western UP

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.

(Source: IANS)

Plea in SC seeks quashing of food security ordinance

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.

  Can a bill that had been introduced in parliament but not debated be made into a law by taking the ordinance route? asked the petition.

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.

(Source: IANS)

CBI conducts searches in UP foodgrain scam

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.



FIR against 2,000 accused in Uttar Pradesh foodgrain scam: CBI to Supreme Court

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.



No regard for kids in draft food security bill: Activists

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.