New Delhi, June 3 : The Delhi High Court while disposing of a plea seeking distribution of free cooked food to the needy, asked the state government that "the schemes floated by it shall scrupulously followed for the welfare of the public at large and may continue even after the lockdown period is over."
A division bench of the High Court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan said, "We see no reason to give any further directions to the respondents at this stage. Nevertheless, we expect from the respondents that the schemes floated by the respondents 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," it added.
The observation came in while the court was hearing a petition filed by Nayee Soch Society directing the government to jointly and severally to supply and provide the Corona Relief kit, food grains, and food relief of the same level and status as given to Ration Card holders upon the Aadhaar Card/Voter card holders from March 24 till operation of Disaster Management Act due to Covid-19.
The court also observed that several steps have been taken by respondents to provide food grains and cooked food to the public at large irrespective of the fact that whether they are having ration cards or not.
"There are a number of schemes floated by the respondents as stated hereinabove by the state government as well as by the Central government. Moreover, there are Hunger Relief Centres in which ration card holders as well as those who are not having ration cards can enter and get cooked food free of charge," the bench noted.
"Thus, care has been taken by the respondents to provide food grains and cooked food whether that person is having a ration card or not," the bench noted.
It also observed that the under Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayta 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 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 court said.
The plea sought directions to the governments to ensure that the sufficient food grains, Corona Relief kit shall be available at PDS Shops.
During the course of the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain appearing for the Delhi government told the court that under Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayata Yojana, in order to reduce the economic hardship, provision has been made to distribute one "Essential-items kit" per household during the Month of May 2020, to both PDS and Non PDS households.
The kit contains 1kg refined oil, 1kg sugar, 1kg salt, 1kg chhole chana, 200 gm chili powder, 200 gm dhaniya powder, 200 gm haldi powder and two soap bars.
"...no distinction has been made between PDS and Non-PDS households as regards provision of essential items kits by the state government," the ASG submitted.
He further submitted that such people need to apply at the link "delhi.gov.in" or "ration.jantasamvad.org/ration".
Thereafter, upon approval, an E-coupon gets generated, which is required to be presented with Aadhaar Card at the Designated Distribution Centre for receiving food grains which are presently 400 in number.
However, he submitted that by the end of this week the number of Designated Distribution Centre will be increased to 588.
The Delhi government further told that court that every Member of Parliament and Member of Legislative Assembly of Delhi have been provided with 2,000 Emergency Food Relief Coupons which can be issue by them to the most vulnerable and poor persons in need of food but without both ration card and Aadhaar card and also in addition 20,000 similar coupons have also been made for Minister Food and Supply, Delhi.
Petitioner Nayee Soch Society also requested the court to direct the government to produce the data, details and information in respect of Corona Relief Kit and 10 kg food grains given to the Aadhaar Card/Voter card holders and any other needy person.
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