Delhi High Court has expressed disappointment and dismay in the lack of compliance shown by the Delhi Government in implementing the court's directions on providing food to every person in Delhi who's in need, regardless of the e-coupon system.
While noting that the directions of this court have not been completely implemented in letter and spirit, the Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh observed that the objective sought to be achieved through such directions remain unfulfilled.
The order has come in a PIL filed by Delhi Rozi-Roti Adhika Abhiyan, seeking implementation of the provisions of the National Food Security Act regarding establishment of Grievance Redressal Committee to address the concerns of the public.
While taking the compliance affidavit of the Delhi Government into consideration, the court observed that:
'A detailed reading of the said compliance affidavit reflects that the specific directions issued by this court on April 27 have not been completely implemented in letter and spirit. We express our disappointment and dismay that despite clear cut directions issued to the Delhi Government, to the effect that no citizen currently residing in Delhi should ought to go hungry. The objective sought to be achieved in that regard remains unfulfilled.'
In light of this, the court directed Ms Ankita Mishra, Commissioner Food & Supplies (GNCTD) to file a detailed affidavit clearly expressing therein the mode and manner in which this court's directions have been implemented.
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.
In today's hearing, the Petitioner submitted that the system of issuing e-coupons to those who do not have ration cards was inaccessible to the most vulnerable as it required a smartphone, ability to use the internet, generate OTP, upload photos of the family and a copy of the Aadhaar and finally to download the e-coupon.
It was then suggested by the Petitioner that facilitation desks should be set up at all the schools and ration shops to give coupons to people who need foodgrains but do not have ration cards and are unable to apply for e-coupons.
While asking the government to continue to implement the directions passed in the last hearing, the court directed the government to file a detailed compliance report before the next date of hearing.
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