The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to take a decision on whether it would procure additional food grains from the Food Corporation of India for supplying to migrant workers and other needy persons who do not have ration cards.
Justice S C Gupte gave the directive last Friday while hearing a petition filed by Pune resident Vanita Chavan, raising concerns over the supply of food grains to the poor and needy persons during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
In her plea, Chavan claimed there has not been proper distribution of food grains through ration shops in the state. She sought a direction to the government to make available food grains to persons who do not have ration cards, like the migrant workers and wandering tribes.
The state government told the court on Friday that it has so far not taken a decision on the directive issued by the Centre allowing all states and Union Territories to increase their requirement of food grains under the Open Market Sale Scheme (OMSC) for distribution outside the targeted public distribution system.
The court noted that the Centre has advised all state governments and Union Territories to take additional quantity of food grains from the Food Corporation of India (FCI) under OMSC, to fulfil their requirement for those persons who are not covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
"It is possible for the state to act under this advisory and take additional food grains from FCI for the needs of wandering tribes and other people stranded within the state, who do not hold ration cards and who come under non-NFSA categories," Justice Gupte said.
"Considering the peculiar situation prevalent in the state as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown introduced by the state due to it, it is imperative for the state to take a decision on this issue, the court said.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on May 12, when the government will have to file an affidavit stating its decision.