Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Distribution of food grains an order, not a suggestion, SC pulls up Pawar

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today made it clear that it had ordered free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot in godowns and it was not a suggestion as made out by Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the Minister," the court told the government counsel.
The apex court had on August 12 asked the Centre to consider free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot in Food Corporation of India godowns.

The court had passed the direction while dealing with a public interest litigation filed by civil rights group PUCL on rampant corruption in Public Distribution System (PDS) besides rotting of food grains in FCI godowns.

Following this, Pawar had said it was not possible to implement the "suggestion" of the court for free distribution.

Today, a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma referred to newspaper reports quoting Pawar that the apex court had only made a suggestion and it was not an order.

"You tell the Minister that it is there in the order, it is part of the order," the Bench said.

The court directed the Government to conduct a fresh survey of the BPL/ABPL/ AAY beneficiaries on the basis of the figures available for 2010 and said the authorities cannot rely on a decade-old data to extend the benefits.

The Bench further said that the government must take urgent steps to prevent further rotting of food grains while maintaining that it must procure only that much quantity which it can preserve.

The Bench reiterated its earlier order that persons above poverty line shall not be entitled to subsidised foodgrains but if the Government was determined to extend the benefit, the same shall be given to those families whose annual income is below Rs three lakh.

Earlier, the apex court had asked the government to consider the suggestion for disbanding PDS supply to Above Poverty Line (APL) families and restrict the benefit only to BPL families and Antodya Anna Yojana (AAY) Scheme beneficiaries.

However, the Centre, in an affidavit, had said it was extending the PDS supply to APL families only after meeting the requirements of the BPL/ AAY beneficiaries.

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