The AAP government's claim before the Delhi High Court on Wednesday that it has not approved any ration card applications from 2016-2018 was contrary to RTI information which indicated that thousands of applications were approved during that period.
The Delhi government's submission before Justice Navin Chawla was made during the hearing of separate pleas by two women seeking issuance of ration cards to them for obtaining subsidised food grains.
The applicants told the high court that according to information received under RTI, 8,351 applications were approved in 2017 and 31,688 in 2018 and in 2019 and 2020 the number was 36,158 and 11,965,respectively.
In a status report filed by the Delhi government, through additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, it has claimed that the threshold of 72.77 lakh ration cards allotted to Delhi under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) was reached in 2016 and after that no applications were approved till 2018.
The other reasonscited by the Delhi government for pendency of ration card applications in the city were acute shortage of staff during 2018 and 2019, then deployment of personnelfor general and state assembly elections in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and this year they were busy with COVID-19 duties.
However, advocate Tushar Sannu Dahiya, appearingfor the two women, told the court that according to information receivedunder RTI, 8,351 applications were approved in 2017 and 31,688 in 2018. In 2019, the number of applications approved was 36,158 and in 2020, it was 11,965, according to the RTI information placed before the court by Dhaiya.
The court, thereafter, asked him to file a reply on affidavit to the status report filed by the Delhi government and listed the matter for hearing on January 18. 2021. In view of the date given by the court, Dahiya urged that some interim direction may be issued to provide some temporary sustenance to the two women.
However, the court declined to pass any interim directions as sought by him. Delhi government, in its status report, has said that after the threshold limit was crossed in 2016, it managed to get some slots after removing duplicate entries and presently, only 392 vacant slots for ration cards remained.
It told the court that once a census is held in Delhi next year, the quota would be revised. The court had last month directed the Delhi government to expedite applications for issuing ration cards, saying they cannot be kept pending for a long time as the cards are required to obtain subsidised food grains.