Amazed at how a man obtained a BPL card and then declared himself financially sound a few days later to obtain licence for a Fair Price Shop, the Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi Government to conduct a departmental inquiry against officials who decided to allot the BPL card and the PDS outlet.
Justice Manmohan passed the order after hearing a petition filed by a woman named Poonam who had moved the High Court challenging a July 18, 2012 order of the Delhi Government issuing authorisation to a man to run a Fair Price Shop. Poonam had also applied for the same but was unsuccessful.
Poonam's counsel contended that allocation of fair price shop to the man violates rules of Delhi Specified Article (Regulation of Distribution) Order as he held a BPL card meaning his and his family's annual income is less than Rs 24,000 but for the purpose of allocation of the fair price shop, he has shown a bank balance of Rs 70,315 as well as ownership of a car, a house and having paid an advance rent of Rs 6,600 for the shop.
The court noted that one of the essential conditions for PDS allotment was financially sound position and that a BPL card holder cannot be so held.
“This Court is amazed at the ease with which respondent No. 4 has obtained on one day a BPL card and after a few days, has declared himself to be financially sound even without surrendering the BPL card. Consequently, this Court directs the Chief Secretary of Government of NCT of Delhi to appoint a relatively senior officer to conduct a departmental inquiry against the officials who took the decision to allot the BPL card and Fair Price Shop in question. If any officer/official is found to be negligent or remiss in his duty, a suitable entry in his service record is directed to be made,” Justice Manmohan said.
The court cancelled the allotment of PDS outlet in favour of the man and directed the government to take suitable steps to allot the shop in question in accordance with law.
During the hearing, the government and its department concerned had, contended that it had followed elaborate procedure and its selection board approved the allotment of the Fair Price Shop.
They also showed extracts of official files showing that the man had adequate finances for running a fair price shop.
“In the opinion of this Court, respondents No.1 to 3 (Delhi government and others) have, in the present case, failed to carry out due diligence as respondent No.4 (allotee) has evidently made either contradictory or false statements. Respondent No.4 cannot be both a BPL card holder and at the same time own a car, house as well as bank balance of Rs.70,315/- and pay rent of Rs.6,600/- for a shop,” the Bench said.
BPL card and PDS outlet came 'hand in hand' for the allottee