Calcutta HC sets aside Bengal govt’s doorstep ration scheme

Scheme ultra vires to the National Food Security Act, orders court

September 29, 2022 03:13 am | Updated 03:13 am IST - Kolkata

The Calcutta High Court.

The Calcutta High Court.

In a major setback to the West Bengal Government, the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday ordered its Duare Ration Scheme (ration at doorstep) ultra vires to the ‘National Food Security Act, 2013 and called it a nullity in the eye of law.

A division bench of Justices Aniruddha Roy and Chitta Ranjan Dash observed the State Government exceeded the limit of delegation of the enabling Act through the scheme.

“We are, therefore, constrained to hold that the State Government has transgressed the limit of delegation by obliging the Fair Price Shop dealers to distribute the rations to the beneficiaries at their doorstep in absence of any authority to that effect in the enabling Act i.e. ‘NFS Act’,” the order said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced the ambitious scheme for providing food grains under the public distribution system at the doorstep ahead of 2021 Assembly polls and launched it in November 2021 benefitting 10 crore people in the State. As per the scheme, vehicles would ferry ration to a particular street or lane and employees of ration dealers would deliver them . The State government had also announced that around 21,000 ration dealers would be provided a financial assistance of ₹1 lakh each to purchase vehicles for delivering ration .

A similar scheme of doorstep delivery of food grains, launched by the Aam Aadmi Party Government in Delhi, had been contested by the Centre, which asked it to adhere to the provisions of the National Food Security Act. On May 19, 2022 the Delhi High Court set aside the AAP government’s scheme - Mukhymantri Ghar Ghar Ration Yojna and said the Delhi government was free to bring another doorstep delivery scheme, but cannot use grains provided by the Centre for it .

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