Sikkim High Court: The Division Bench of Jitendra Kumar Maheshwari and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan, JJ., heard a petition which was filed seeking the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (‘Act of 2013’) read with Sikkim Foods Security Rules, 2014 (‘Rules of 2014’) for an order directing the State respondents to ensure proper quantity and items of food be provided to the beneficiaries falling under the general and special categories and also falling under the categories mentioned in section 6 of the Amendment Rules, 2017; to duly conduct social audit in order to monitor and evaluate the planning and implementation of the Amendment Rules, 2017 and to constitute an independent committee to investigate, report and find out solution for effective implementation of the Act of 2013.

Petitioner and another associate with Human Rights Law Network, Sikkim Unit had conducted fact finding at specific villages falling under different constituencies in East, West and South Districts of Sikkim to check whether people falling under Antyodaya Anna Yojna (AAY), Priority Household (PHH) and Other Priority Household (OPHH) (General) categories were receiving food grain as per the provision of the Act of 2013. After fact finding it was found that although members of AAY, PHH and OPHH were entitled to certain benefits, but they were not provided with the same by the fair price shops. It was the petitioner’s case that the data pertaining to the quantity of wheat provided to the beneficiaries in the official State portal of the Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Department and the reply to the query under the Right to Information Act dated 05-01-2021, was contradictory.

On 10-12-2020, the petitioner had received a mail from the State of Sikkim and names of fair price shops that were indulging in malpractices were sought. The petitioner however contended that despite sending the details, the State of Sikkim neither took any step nor issued any reply in about six months.

The Court stated that at this stage a direction issued to the respondent 1 and 2 to examine the grievances of the petitioner within a period of one month would suffice. The Court added that if the petitioner remains unsatisfied he would have liberty to approach the Court after the State respondents examine the issues.[Dew Kumar Chettri v. State of Sikkim, 2021 SCC OnLine Sikk 120, decided on 21-08-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Advocates before the Court:

For Petitioner: Ms Mon Maya Subba

For Respondents: Ms Pema Bhutia

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