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Ensure hungry persons are eligible for grain: Delhi High Court to state government

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal
By Our Representative
The Delhi High Court bench comprising Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh, hearing a petition filed by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyaan (DRRAA), has directed the Delhi government file a status report on whether all ration shops disbursing foodgrains are open during working hours from 9 am -1 pm and 3 pm-7 pm on all seven days and providing these to the needy.
Asking the state government to give its reply within three working, the court said, it should ensure that those not in possession of a ration card (non-Public Distribution System [PDS] individuals) are disbursed grain from PDS distribution centres as well as other centres set up by them for the same purpose.
Asking the government to publicize the compliance both to the print and electronic media on a daily basis, the court said, the government should also place on its website the grievance helpline numbers so as to enable members of the public to address their grievances to the concerned officers.
Justice Mridul observed during the hearing that any person who is hungry should be eligible for grain and said that those who were not in dire need, would not leave their house to stand in queues at ration shops. DRRAA was represented by senior advocates Sanjay Parkh and Prasanna S.
The petition said, proper functioning of food distribution is important as lakhs of people in Delhi have lost their livelihood
In its petition DRRAA pressed on the need to ensure effective and time-bound redress to complaints of non-supply of rations and the urgent need for transparency in the distribution of foodgrains through the PDS and other mechanisms like e-coupons to ensure that people do not go hungry during the lockdown.
The petition said, the proper functioning of the food distribution is more important than ever before as lakhs of people in Delhi have lost their livelihood due to the sudden lockdown and are unable to afford even one meal in a day. It added, on visits to rations shops, DRRAA found that in many places ration shops remain shut or turn away people on the pretext that the stock had been exhausted.
“In the absence of any information in the public domain on the distribution of rations in terms of who all have availed of the stipulated quantity, there is no way to determine whether stocks of ration have been provided to the intended persons or whether there has been any diversion of grain”, the petition said.
It underlined, “Despite repeated orders of the High Court, the Delhi government has failed to put in place the statutory grievance redress framework thereby resulting in no hearings of complaints regarding denial of food.”

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