Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s statement on sugar prices will encourage hoarding: Bench

The Supreme Court on Tuesday made it clear that its August 12 directive to distribute grain at “no cost” or “very low cost” was an order and not a suggestion as made out by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

Hearing a petition filed by the People's Union for Civil Liberties relating to the streamlining of the Public Distribution System, A Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma gave this clarification, referring to media reports on Mr. Pawar's statement. “It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell your Minister. Let him not misunderstand our order,” Justice Verma told Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran.

Mr. Pawar had said it was not possible to implement the court's suggestion because the government was already providing subsidy.

Justice Verma also read out Mr. Pawar's statement that sugar prices might rise in near future. He told Mr. Parasaran “statements like these would encourage hoarding of sugar.”

When the hearing resumed, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the PUCL, gave a series of suggestions and sought directives.

After hearing Mr. Parasaran and Mr. Gonsalves, the court said: “According to the court commissioner's report, about 50,000 tonnes of wheat had deteriorated, and is not fit for consumption. He submitted that several lakhs of tonnes of wheat procured has not been properly preserved.”

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