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Considering framing rules under NFSA, Delhi govt tells HC

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The AAP government has informed the Delhi High Court that it is considering framing rules for grievance redress and accountability under the food security law.

It said this in an affidavit filed in response to a contempt petition by an NGO which claimed that the authorities have failed to comply with the high court's September 2017 directions regarding implementation of grievance redress and accountability measures under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

The matter is listed for hearing on Friday before a bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice A J Bhambhani.

Petitioner NGO Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan, in its main petition, has sought disbursal of subsidised foodgrains to beneficiaries under NFSA without Aadhaar cards.

The high court in its September 2017 order had directed the Delhi government to examine the Model Rules suggested by the central government on distribution of food by fair price shops and take steps in accordance with the provisions of the NFSA, 2013, in four weeks.

The Delhi government's affidavit showed that the file regarding framing of rules for grievance redress has been transferred between various departments and ministries but no concrete action has been taken yet.

The affidavit ends by stating that the matter of setting up the statutory grievance redress framework under NFSA as directed by the court is currently under consideration and sought disposal of the contempt plea.

It said the minister of food supply and consumer affairs in his note of September 10, 2018, observed that the department was committed to providing 'door step delivery of ration' for which cabinet decision has already been taken and that it would be appropriate that the rules are framed accordingly.

The minister directed that while framing of rules, the observations of law department as approved by the law minister may also be kept in mind, the affidavit said.

"The department (food supply) examined the matter and proposed vide note dated January 9, 2019, to forward to the law department through the office of minister food supply and consumer affairs on January 9, seeking its opinion on whether the department may incorporate the provision of 'door step delivery of ration' into the grievance redressal rules," it said.

In the contempt plea, the NGO alleged there is continuous, wilful and deliberate non-compliance of the court's order.

"Non-compliance of the said order is effectively non-implementation of statutory mandates of the NFSA and amounts to denial of access and/ or difficulty to access the fundamental right to food of a vast number of residents of the National Capital Territory of Delhi," it said.

The court had in August last year directed the government to submit a timeline for complying with its 2017 direction to examine the model rules suggested by the central government on distribution of food by fair price shops and take steps under the provisions of the national food security law.

In the September 2018 order, the court had also asked the state government to examine the provisions of the NFSA and put in place the internal grievance redressal mechanism and District Grievance Redressal Officer.

It had said that the state shall examine the provisions regarding creation of the State Food Commission and take appropriate steps in this regard.

The NGO 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.

It said having a robust grievance redress framework would ensure that people's complaints and grievances about problems in accessing their right to food would be addressed in a time-bound manner.

Under the NFSA, 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 Public Distribution System (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 quashing of the Centre's February 8, 2017 notification making Aadhaar mandatory for availing benefits under the NFSA. The notification came into effect from February 8, 2017 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.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 25 2019. 17:55 IST