‘If family members living separately are able to provide different address proofs, they are entitled to separate ration cards’

The Madras High Court came to the rescue of a woman separated from her husband and living apart with her children, by directing the authorities to issue her a new family card.

“A family includes not just the couple and children, but also the parents and other dependants. As along as they live under one roof, it is enough if one ration card is given. But when there is a dispute and each person, whether married or not, is able to give a separate address proof, she/he is entitled to ration cards,” said Justice S. Vaidyanathan in his order.

A. Chithra of Kancheepuram district had filed a writ petition stating her husband was an abusive alcoholic, and she and her three sons lived separately. Since she did not live with him, and as her husband had refused to part with the family card, she was entitled to a separate ration card, the petition said.

Objecting, the additional government pleader said if the petitioner’s prayer was granted, everybody would begin to demand separate family cards. It would not be feasible for the government to issue ration cards to several individuals. Justice Vaidyanathan cited a Madurai Bench order which ruled that the husband and wife were two individuals, and as consumers, entitled to individual LPG connections.

In the present case, the card had been issued for the family, but since the couple lived apart, Ms. Chithra and her children were entitled to a separate card. If a separate proof of residence was submitted, the authorities were duty bound to issue another family card, he said.

Justice Vaidyanathan directed the authorities to issue a ration card to the petitioner and her children in two months. If and when her husband approached the ration shop, the officer there should seize the card, strike the other names off it, and hand it over to him after ensuring his name alone was present on the card, he said.