The Centre Monday opposed the Delhi government's Doorstep Delivery of Ration Scheme while submitting before the Delhi High Court that the State cannot mitigate the architecture of the National Food Security Act (NFSA) while implementing it.
The Centre said the fair price shops are an integral part of the NFSA and the state has to fall into the architecture of the law.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Jasmeet Singh, which heard the matter for several hours, said it will continue hearing Centre's arguments on November 29.
The court was hearing a plea by Delhi Sarkari Ration Dealers Sangh challenging the Delhi government's scheme for doorstep delivery of ration, Mukhymantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna.
We have no role in the selection of fair price shop owners. It is not that the system is placed by us and the State is prejudiced. It is chosen by the state government, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, said.
She said though the Act mandates obligations of both the Central and state government, it is the State which is responsible for the execution of processes as mandated under the Act.
Bhati along with Central government standing counsel Monika Arora further said if the state government wants, it is free to give benefits higher than the NFSA but they cannot mitigate or militate the architecture of the Act.
The Supreme Court had on November 15 refused to entertain the Centre's plea against the Delhi High Court order directing the AAP government not to stop or curtail the supply of foodgrains or flour to fair price shops.
The apex court had said the September 27 order of the high court which was under challenge was an interim order and the matter is listed before the high court on November 22 and therefore it would not like to entertain it.
The Centre had earlier told the high court that as per the NFSA, it gives food grains to states which have to take it from the godown of the Food Corporation of India to deliver it to the doorsteps of fair price shops for distributing it to the beneficiaries.
It had said the Delhi government's home delivery of ration scheme is contrary to NFSA and other states, including West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, and Andhra Pradesh, have different schemes than that of the Delhi government.
Defending its Doorstep Delivery of Ration in the National Capital territory Scheme, the Delhi government had said the scheme is for the poor who are now being threatened by fair price shop owners to opt-out of the home delivery mode otherwise they will not be given ration.
It had been said since there was rampant corruption and inefficiency in the extant model of the Public Distribution System (PDS) which results in huge leakages and siphoning off of subsidised food grains, the scheme will ensure that clean packages of rice and wheat reach poor people.
The Delhi government had said 69 lakh out of 72 lakh people have registered for the home delivery scheme which is a voluntary scheme.
The high court had on September 27 directed the Delhi government to issue communications to all the fair price shop dealers informing them of the particulars of ration cardholders who have opted to receive their rations at doorsteps.
It had said only thereafter, the fair price shops dealers are not required to be supplied with the ration of the PDS beneficiaries who have opted for doorstep delivery.
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