Release food to the poor: HC tells Maharashtra govt

Written By Unknown on Sabtu, 22 Juni 2013 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Young India is impatient for a change, said Bombay High Court on Friday even as it directed the Maharashtra government to expedite process to give foodgrains to large number of primitive tribal groups in Thane and Raigad districts.

A division bench of Justice Dhananjay Chandrachud and Justice Suresh Gupte on June 21, 2013 heard a public interest litigation by Jagruti Sangharsh Manch regarding non-implementation of the Supreme Court's April 2004 directives for issuing ration cards to PTG and distribution of subsidised food grains. "Young India is impatient for change. You must show action," said Justice Chandrachud.

The judge said "mindsets have to change" as the poor and illiterate who are unaware of their rights will not come to the government. "Government must come with a begging bowl to the poor. The process must be conducted in the reverse and every effort must be made to trace and identify such persons including holding camp,'' said Justice Chandrachud. The judges also reminded the government that foodgrains "are rotting in godowns instead of being given to the poor."

NGO's advocate Kranti LC argued that the government is yet to approve the 2002 Below Poverty Line list and is continuing with the 1997 lists. Shocked that the government had not approving the BPL list pending with it for 10 years, the judges directed that steps be taken grant approval forthwith and not later than four weeks. They said there is no justification for State government to insist that unless PTG possess BPL cards the government cannot give them foodgrains. They said persons to whom benefit ought to have been granted after 1997 would definitely be excluded only because of administrative inefficiency of the government in failing to update the list. "We are of the view that this state of affairs cannot continue any further since the failure of the State government to reach out to persons Below Poverty Line constitutes violation of Right to Life,"they noted in their order.

The judges were also astonished when told by additional government pleader Nitin Deshpande that the verification of ration card is also done by ration shop owners. They said it will result in "conflict of interests and duty" as the object of verification is to weed out persons to whom bogus cards is issued. They directed the government to file a status report at the next hearing on July 19, 2013.

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