Congress MP Jairam Ramesh had sought directions from the court that the requirement of ration cards for the supply of rations in the Public Distribution System (PDA) be relaxed till the COVID-19 to help mitigate the food shortage and prevent deaths. He also sought directions from the court clarifying that households would be exempt from Aadhar based biometric authentication for obtaining foodgrains under PDS.
Public Distribution System is a government-sponsored chain of shops entrusted with the work of distributing basic food and non-food commodities to the needy sections of the society at very cheap prices.
Arguments before the Court
Respondent argued that people who had moved back from one place to another were now facing problems as their Ration cards were only valid at the place they were earlier living in. In light of this, he urged that the Government must implement the “Swaraj Abhiyan” Scheme, “this is not adversarial this is with intent to help the government”.
Petitioner argued that the circumstances as stated above, it is most respectfully prayed that this court may be graciously pleased to issue a writ of mandamus, or any other writ, order or direction to the Respondents to ensure that the National Food Security Act, 2013 is being implemented rigorously by all States”.
National Food Security Act, 2013: is an Act of the Parliament of India which aims to provide subsidized food grains to approximately two-thirds of India’s 1.2 billion people.
Supreme Court’s Observation
Supreme Court said this to be the problem. We are finding that people are approaching the court under Article 32 without even making a representation to the Government. Such petitions should be preceded by some initiative”.
Article 32: provides the right to Constitutional remedies which means that a person has the right to move to Supreme Court (and high courts also) for getting his fundamental rights protected. While the Supreme Court has the power to issue writs under Article 32, High Courts have been given the same powers under Article 226.
Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea seeking directions to the Centre and state government to ensure the universal coverage of Food Security for all during the COVID-19 pandemic and directed that the issue be taken up as representation before the concerned authorities.
Learned senior counsel for the petitioner very candidly admitted that the grievances raised in the writ petition have not been brought into the notice of the Government, therefore, the Government could not consider the grievances and take appropriate action.
Learned counsel for the petitioner is permitted to withdraw the writ petition to enable the petitioner to submit a detailed representation to respondent No.1.
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