Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to put up help desks with a computer at all 580 centres through which rations are distributed through e-coupons within 5 working days to act as a one stop centre for applying for e-coupons.
The Division Bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Subramonium Prasad has asked the Delhi Government to ensure that all the requirements including uploading of photo, documents etc. should be completed there on the spot.
The court further directed the Delhi Government to request and advise MLAs and MPs to designate place and time where they are available for issuing e-coupons and for this information to be widely publicised.
While observing that in the absence of proper facilitation, the poor and marginalised would be excluded from the system, the court further directed that Food Inspectors shall carry out regular visits and also directed the SDMs to monitor shops and report to the District Secretaries of the Delhi Legal Services Authorities (DLSA).
In today's proceedings, the court observed that there is still a ration deficit for 17 lakh non-PDS beneficiaries, which must be met by the State without any further loss of time.
The court also observed that since most of the beneficiaries belong to economically distressed section, it would be a serious challenge for them to apply for e-coupons at the links provided by the respondent/Delhi Government for issuing ration, however simplified the process may be.
When it was pointed out by the Petitioner that some non-PDS beneficiaries are so poor that they can't even afford the ration prices, the court directed the Delhi Government to ensure that adequate number of aata chakkies are identified in each district where the non-PDS beneficiaries can go for getting the grain received grounded into flour, without making any payment.
The charges raised by the Atta Chakkis for grinding the wheat, the court held, shall be borne by the State.
On the issue of poor management of the helpline and grievance redressal system, the court highlighted that:
'The said Helpline number itself is a disaster that needs to be addressed immediately by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority. The said Helpline shall be made functional by the end of this day. The respondent/State is cautioned that we propose to personally verify if both the aforesaid Helplines are functioning, by making calls on a random basis.'
In the previous hearing, the Delhi High Court had directed the Delhi Government to ensure that every person who is in need of ration should be provided the same without any bureaucratic hurdles of 'e-coupons', especially to those who are in dire need of food.
The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh had further directed the Delhi Government to install complaint boxes at all the ration shops and designated schools and also ensure that all the help-line numbers are functional.
The petition claims that that there have been widespread violations in the implementation of the NFSA including ration shops being shut during working hours, denial of access to food grain and other key resources and lack of implementation of necessary grievance redressal and accountability mechanisms.
As per the Petitioner, such non implementation of NFSA amounts to the breach of duty enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution as it has caused distress to a large number of people who are rendered helpless by the ongoing pandemic.
Therefore, the petition seeks direction to be issued to the Delhi Government to ensure that people are not denied access to foodgrains and other resources at the time of such crisis. This is significant to alleviate the struggle of hundreds of people who have been pushed to hunger and unemployment due to the ongoing lockdown.
To ensure the same, the Petitioner has asked the court to direct Delhi Government to to set up and operationalise the accountability and Grievance
Redress System (including a State Food Commission, social audits) as envisaged under Sections 14, 15,16 and 28 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 in order to ensure that no one goes hungry for want of food and its denial on any technical ground.
Today, the court directed the Secretary cum Food Commissioner of Delhi government to file a fresh compliance report regarding these directions and has now listed the matter to be heard on May 26, 2020.
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