The Delhi government’s scheme for doorstep delivery of ration, Mukhymantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna, was set aside by the Delhi High Court on Thursday stating the state cannot use grains provided by the Centre in this scheme.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh said the Delhi government is free to bring another doorstep delivery scheme but it cannot use grains provided by the Centre for this doorstep scheme.
The high court allowed two petitions filed by ration dealers challenging the scheme. The high court had on January 10 reserved its order on the pleas by petitioners Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh and Delhi Ration Dealers Union after holding extensive hearings.
Ration dealers have challenged the AAP government’s scheme claiming the scheme fell foul of the law, including the National Food Security Act (NFSA). It alleged the Delhi government does not have the power to make any such scheme without the concurrence of the lieutenant governor and the central government.
The Delhi government’s scheme aimed to introduce a ration distribution system that would be monitored by state-owned corporations to make the system “significantly better” and minimise malpractices.
The Delhi High Court had asked the Delhi government in January as to how its doorstep delivery scheme was an improvement on the existing Fair-price Shops (FPS) model and how it alleges the present system has corruption.
The AAP-led government has defended the scheme stating that in the new system, a contractor would lose the tender in case of misconduct, and contended that the court was not examining whether the new regime would ensure 100 per cent sanitisation. It has also been said that this scheme was for the poor and has alleged that the poor have been threatened by FPS owners that if they don’t opt-out of the home delivery mode, they will not get ration.
The AAP government had earlier stated that there was a “complete misconception” that fair price shops would cease to exist after implementation of the scheme.
It had said states like Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka’s Bengaluru have identical doorstep delivery schemes.
The Centre opposed Delhi’s doorstep delivery scheme in 2021 stating the state cannot mitigate the architecture of the National Food Security Act while implementing it. The Centre had explained that as per the NFSA, it gave food grains to states which have to take it from the godown of the Food Corporation of India to deliver it to the doorsteps of fair price shops for distributing it to the beneficiaries.
The high court had on September 27 last year directed the Delhi government to issue communications to all the fair price shop dealers informing them of the particulars of ration cardholders who have opted to receive their rations at doorsteps. It had said only thereafter, the fair price shops dealers were not required to be supplied with the ration of the PDS beneficiaries who have opted for the other scheme.
Later, the Supreme Court had on November 15 refused to entertain the Centre’s plea against the Delhi High Court order directing the AAP government not to stop or curtail the supply of foodgrains or flour to fair price shops.
(With inputs from PTI)