The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Union government to inform it of the steps taken to preserve the remaining grain procured.
Hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties relating to the streamlining of the PDS, a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma, quoting the court commissioner's report, said 50,000 tonnes of wheat had deteriorated, and was not fit for consumption, and several lakhs of tonnes of wheat procured were not properly preserved. “The Food Corporation of India must properly evaluate the capacities of its godowns and procure only that much of grain that can be properly preserved.”
The court also expressed anguish at corruption in the Public Distribution System. “We have to develop a culture of zero tolerance of corruption. Unless immediate and urgent steps are taken, the ultimate effect will be on the poorest citizen, who is deprived of legitimate entitlement of grain. We must ensure that every poor person is assured of two square meals a day.”
The Bench said it would be desirable to abolish the Above the Poverty Line category altogether. “In case it is not possible, the government should at least consider limiting the number of households to those whose annual income is less than Rs.2 lakh a year. We see no rationale or justification for providing subsidised grain to cardholders whose annual income is more than Rs. 2 lakh.”
The court asked the Centre to carry out a fresh survey as early as possible to get a correct picture of citizens “who are in the categories of Above the Poverty Line, Below the Poverty Line and Antyodaya Anna Yojana.”