HC declares Duare Ration Scheme legally void

HC declares Duare Ration Scheme legally void

Hummingbird News Desk

KOLKATA, 28 SEP: In a major setback for the West Bengal government, the Calcutta High Court today termed the state government’s ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ as legally void. The division bench of the Calcutta HC called it illegal in the “eye of law” as it coincides with the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013. 

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The much touted scheme was part of the chief minister’s election manifesto promising free ration at doorstep to beneficiaries.

The decision by the High Court is apparently a blow to the Bengal government which had promised free delivery of rations to the doorsteps of beneficiaries as part of its 2021 assembly elections campaign.  

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the HC. In June last year, a Calcutta HC single bench has dismissed the PIL, stating there was nothing “illegal” in the scheme.

However, that order was challenged and today Calcutta HC division bench has set aside the single bench order.

The West Bengal cabinet had okayed the grant of an additional commission of ₹75 per quintal of ration items to 21,000 ration dealers following the successful implementation of the Duare Ration scheme.

The division bench of Justices Chitta Ranjan Dash and Aniruddha Roy held that the ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ is “ultra vires of the National Food Security Act., 2013” and “is therefore a nullity in the eye of the law”.

“The State Government has transgressed the limit of delegation by obliging the Fair Price Shop dealers to distribute the rations to the beneficiaries at their doorstep in absence of any authority to that effect in the enabling act, i.e, the National Food Security Act.” the division bench observed.

It said that if the NFS Act is amended by the Union Legislature for doorstep delivery of food grains to the beneficiaries or invests any such power to the state government only then can such a scheme be made by the state and can be said to be in sync with the NFS Act.

The scheme was introduced by the Mamata Banerjee government in November 2021, for the delivery of food grains under the public distribution system at the doorsteps of beneficiaries.

On a petition by the fair price shop dealers, the single bench of Justice Krishna Rao had on June 16 held that the state government’s decision to deliver food grains at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries “cannot be said to be in violation of any provision of the NFS Act.”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had earlier said that she wants to build a nation where no one goes hungry, where no woman feels unsafe and where no oppressive forces divide the people.

Tags: #CalcuttaHighCourt #DivisionBench #DuareRation #LegallyVoid #NationalFoodSecurityAct #MamataBanerjee

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