The Delhi High Court on Tuesday said that Delhi’ites seeking to avail subsidised foodgrains under the public distribution system (PDS) should have some sort of identification if they do not have Aadhaar cards.
A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that distribution of foodgrains without any identity proof will lead to people coming to Delhi from all over the country which would strain the resources of the city.
“Imagine the whole of India converging on the metropolis. Where will the housing, water and sanitation come from,” it asked an NGO which has sought disbursal of subsidised foodgrains to the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) without Aadhaar cards?
“Without any identification, everyone from all over will come here. Bring some ID. Even as per you, more (beneficiaries) have surfaced,” it said.
The bench also refused to grant the NGO’s interim plea for a stay on the rollout of the Aadhaar-linked point of sale (POS) machines at fair price shops for distribution of foodgrains and listed the matter for further hearing on November 7.
The Delhi government, represented by advocate Anuj Aggarwal, submitted a status report before the bench highlighting the benefits of rolling out the POS machines.
The status report said that POS machines would ensure authentification of beneficiaries, eradication of bogus ration cards, check on diversion and pilferage of subsidised foodgrains, enabling of digital payments as well as easier verification of stock at fair price shops.
The NGO, Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, had moved the court claiming that some slum dwellers in south Delhi were facing difficulties in getting subsidised foodgrains under the PDS due to lack of Aadhaar cards.
Under the NFSA which was rolled out across the country in November last year, five kgs of foodgrains per person is provided each month at Rs 1-3 per kg to over 80 crore people.
The Centre had earlier told the court that Aadhaar was made mandatory to ensure that the poor get subsidised foodgrains under the PDS.
Terming PDS as a “misused system”, it had said that through Aadhaar, the endeavour was to ensure that the real beneficiaries get foodgrains.
Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) after collecting biometric data of the citizens.
The PIL has sought to quash of the Centre’s February 8 notification making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits under the NFSA. The notification came into effect on February 8 in all states and UTs, except Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir.
The petition has said the notification violates the basic principle of law enshrined in Articles 14 (equality) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
As carried in MC on 21.9.2017