Stop giving food subsidy to rich: SC

“Wheat and rice are procured at Rs 8.50 and Rs 11.85 respectively. There are also expenses on storage and transport.

The government provides them to above poverty line (APL) families at subsidised rates. Tax payers’ money is being drained,” a Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said.

“We leave it to you, but cap it at a point. Fix a benchmark and exclude certain sections of the APL people from getting public distribution system (PDS) foodgrains,” said the Bench.
Asking Attorney General G S Vahanvati to file an affidavit with additional information on the PDS, the Bench fixed February 24 as the next date of hearing.

Vahanvati refuted the argument of advocate Colin Gonsalves appearing for petitioner PUCL claiming that there were 11.5 crore BPL families in India.

“If there are 11.5 crore BPL families, then more than 70 crore of the 110 crore population would be under the poverty line,” he said.

The apex court asked the Centre to expedite the process to computerise the PDS in the country as it would check corruption and pilferage.

Storage

As the kharif crop is ready for harvest, the government should make arrangements for storage of foodgrains. “In future please ensure that whatever (foodgrains) procured are properly preserved,” the Bench said referring to the rotting food grains in certain parts of the country last year.

Vahanvati’s submitted that a high-level 10-member committee headed by the secretary Food and Public Distribution had been appointed by Agriculture Minister Sarad Pawar to look into the procurement and distribution of foodgrains.

The Bench asked the attorney general to look into the anomalies in taking a BPL family as an unit for distribution of 35 kg of food grains when the family may contain even one member or 10 members.

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