Apex court takes on Centre again on grains

Though Attorney General Ghulam E Vahanvati’s submitted that a high level 10-member committee headed by the Food and Public Distribution Secretary  had been appointed to look into the issue, the bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Varma posed eight more questions.

The bench said the agriculture ministry should file an affidavit on whether it was prepared to give about 20 million tonnes out of the 55 million tonnes stock of food grain to the states for distribution through the PDS.

The bench asked the Attorney General to look into the anomalies in taking a BPL family as a unit for the distribution of 35 kg of food grain when the family may contain even one member or 10 members. “Our resources are limited and they should be used prudently,’’ the bench said, asking the government to computerise the PDS system at the earliest.

The judges also asked the Centre to inform the court by December 1, the next date of hearing, progress of computerisation.

Among other things, the bench suggested putting a ceiling on the income of Above Poverty Line (APL) quota, distribution of food grains through  state government agencies and resorting to a realistic calculation of the number of BPL families, according to the data available in 2010.

Quoting the Justice Wadhwa committee report, the bench asked the government to initiate criminal cases against  people who own bogus BPL cards.

Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for People’s Union for Civil Liberties, submitted that there are certain issues which needed to be sorted out for the betterment of the poor and needy in the country.

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