No discrimination between ration, non-ration card holders in giving foodgrain: Delhi govt to HC

New Delhi, Jun 3 (PTI) The AAP government has informed the Delhi High Court that it was not indulging in any discrimination between ration and non-ration card holders in providing relief kits and foodgrain ensuring that no person remains hungry due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, conducting the hearing through video conferencing, noted that several steps have been taken by the Delhi government to provide foodgrain and cooked food to the public at large irrespective of the fact whether they have ration cards or not.

Holding that no further directions were required to be passed at this stage, the bench said: “We expect from the respondents (Delhi government) that the schemes floated by them shall be scrupulously followed for the welfare of the public at large and may continue even after the lockdown period is over.

'In the event necessary, the respondents may also take steps to enhance the coverage or benefits of the schemes floated by them, to realise their objective that no person in Delhi should go hungry by reason of the present lockdown.” The court passed the order while disposing of a plea by NGO Nayee Soch Society seeking direction to the authorities to provide coronavirus relief kit, foodgrain and food relief of the same level and status to ration card holders and Aadhaar Card and voter card holders from March 24 till the operation of Disaster Management Act due to COVID-19.

While the order was passed on Tuesday, it was made available on Wednesday.

The petitioner's grievance was that discrimination was being done by the authorities between the ration card holders and non-ration card holders in providing corona relief Kits and food grains or rice.

The court, however, noted the submissions of Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain and Delhi government additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, representing the Delhi government, that there are hunger relief centers in which ration card holders as well as those who are not having ration cards can enter and get cooked food free of charge.

It also noted that a number of schemes have been floated by the central government and Delhi government and care has been taken by the authorities to provide food grains and cooked food whether that person is having a ration card or not.

“Similarly, under Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayata Yojana, there is provision of emergency food relief coupons and the person in need can get the benefit, irrespective of the fact whether a person is a ration card holder or not. Thus, grievances ventilated by the petitioner about the discrimination between the ration card holders and others is not tenable,” the bench said.

The court was informed by the ASG that as per a Cabinet decision, 400 designated distribution centres were set up across Delhi which provided 4 Kg wheat and 1 kg rice, free of cost, to 10 lakh non-PDS beneficiaries and it was then extended to 30 lakh people.

To reduce the economic hardship, under Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayata Yojana, provision has been made to distribute one 'Essential-items kit' per household, containing 1kg refined oil, 1kg sugar, 1 kg salt, 1 kg chhole chana, 200 gm chili powder, 200 gm dhaniya powder, 200 gm haldi powder and two soap bars in May to both PDS and non-PDS households, he said.

The Delhi government also submitted that no distinction has been made between PDS and non-PDS households regarding the provision of essential items kits by it and every Member of Parliament and Member of Legislative Assembly of Delhi have been provided with 2000 emergency food relief coupons which can be issue by them to the most vulnerable and poor persons in need of food.

Out of the total coupons issued to the MPs/MLAs, ASG submitted that 1,01,243 coupons currently stand utilised by them. He added that the government is also running more than 1800 hunger relief centers, where approximately 8 to 10 lakhs people are served lunch and dinner daily. PTI SKV HMP SA