Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale and Madhav J. Jamdar, JJ., while addressing a petition expressed that,

It is disheartening situation for us when we the fortunates are eagerly awaiting as the festive season is approaching and the festival of lights would spread joy and happiness in the society throughout the State or the whole nation, here are the few petitioners who are the members of the marginalised section in general and tribals in particular who have approached this Court on a grievance that they are deprived of the basic requirement of human life, i.e., food, only on account that the State machinery is not technically equipped to give them the benefits flowing from the scheme formulated and floated by the Union of India and to be implemented and executed by the respective States.

 Reason for the deprival of food grain to the petitioners was that:

  • their Aadhaar Card was not linked with the system and
  • Government circular dated 13-10-2016 for receiving the benefits of the public distribution system, it is a prerequisite that Aadhaar card of each member of the family who is enlisted in the ration card must have been linked in the RCMS System/portal.

Factual Background

Petitioners in the present matter are residents of the tribal area.

Union of India had formulated a scheme, namely, the National Food Security Act, 2013 with a laudable object as it is stated in the Act to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. Section 3 of the said Act deals with the provisions for food security.

On the basis of the above-stated Act, the State of Maharashtra issued a Government Resolution under the caption “Furnishing of District-wise Updated Target and Action to be taken therefor under the National Food Security Act, 2013”.

Clause (5) of the notification further makes it very clear that notwithstanding anything in above paragraphs, any member of eligible household listed in the Ration Card shall be entitled to receive the entire quantity of entitled subsidised food grains or Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy under NFSA, if any one member of the household in the Ration Card fulfils the identification conditions mentioned in above clauses, in case Aadhaar number is not yet assigned to all such members of the household.

Analysis and Decision

Court noted that 85 people approached the Tahsildar raising the grievance of non-receiving the foodgrains under the public distribution system.

This Court had requested the AGP to seek instructions and it was submitted that the reason for non-distribution of foodgrains to some persons was that their Aadhaar Card was linked to a different place than the residence of the said persons. The practice being followed for linking of Aadhaar card is the ration-card holder goes to the ration shop and requests the shop owner to link his ration card or Aadhaar card in the system. Petitioners in the instant matter are tribal person and majority of them are not literate as such they rely on the action taken by the respective ration shop owner and in such case if a mistake was committed by shop owner, the same cannot be the reason for denial of food grains to the ration cardholder under the benevolent schemes.

The policy under the National Food Security Act refers to the Aadhaar Card as one of the modes for identifying the person and further the notification dated 8th February 2017 makes the position very clear in clause 5.

Bench stated that it is unable to find any logic, reason or rationale for denying the benefits of distribution of foodgrains to the petitioners and alike persons raising certain technical ground by the respondent authorities, hence by way of interim direction Court directed respondents 1, 2 and 3 to distribute the foodgrains to the petitioners and similarly circumstanced persons – the tribal beneficiaries under the PDS as well as the provisions of the National Food Security Act and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana.

High Court concluded stating that the respondents are at liberty to verify the ration cards of the petitioners and the similarly circumstanced tribal persons. Foodgrains to be distributed to the tribal persons before 4-11-2021 and respondent 3 to implement, supervise the distribution.

Matter to be further considered on 1-12-2021. [Ganpat Dharma Mengal v. Tehsildar Office, WP No. 7174 of 2021, decided on 29-10-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

Kranti L.C. i/b Kaustubh Gidh and Dipika Shani for the Petitioner.

Mrs. A. S. Purav, AGP for the Respondent-State.

Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Meghalaya High Court: The Division Bench of Biswanath Somadder, CJ. and H.S. Thangkhiew, J. heard a PIL which was filed with two primary issues. The first issue was with regard to the mandatory vaccination which was dealt by the order dated 23-06-2021. The other issue was with regard to the method of implementation of the Government Welfare Schemes meant for the marginalized section of the society in the State of Meghalaya.

The Court was informed by the Registry that the Secretaries of the District Legal Services Authorities have prepared extensive reports; a summary whereof shall be forwarded by the Registry to the Advocate General and the concerned authority of the State of Meghalaya so that they can respond to the same on the next date.

The Court observed that in respect of the vaccination policy presently adopted by the State of Meghalaya and particularly in remote villages, there were eligible persons who cannot be vaccinated simply because they do not possess any AADHAAR Card.

The Court thus requested the State not to insist on production of AADHAAR Card as the only proof of identity since there were other recognised options available to citizens of India to present their proofs of identity.[Registrar General v. State of Meghalaya, PIL No.6 of 2021, decided on 24-08-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Hot Off The PressNews

As reported by Hindu, The deadline for linking PAN Card with Aadhaar Card has been extended several times by the Income Tax Department and the current deadline for the same will end on 31-03-2020.

The IT Department has stated that, if the PAN Card and Aadhaar Card are not linked by the 31-03-2020, they will become inoperative.

Persons whose PANs become inoperative shall be liable for all the consequences under the I-T Act for not furnishing, intimating or quoting the permanent account number.

The Income-tax (5th Amendment) Rules, 2020

[Source: The Hindu]

Case BriefsSupreme Court (Constitution Benches)

Supreme Court: 5-judge bench of H.L. Dattu, CJ and M.Y. Eqbal, C. Nagappan, Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, JJ constituted to clarify/modify the orders dated 11.08.2015 by a 3-judge bench of this Court. The Court, however, clarified clear that the Aadhaar card Scheme is purely voluntary and it cannot be made mandatory till the matter is finally decided by this Court one way or the other.

The Court, after considering the submissions of Mukul Rohtagi, learned Attorney General for India and Shyam Divan, Soli Sorabjee and Gopal Subramanium said that if the Schemes like The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employement Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), National Social Assistance Programme (Old Age Pensions, Widow Pensions, Disability Pensions) Prime Minister’s Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and Employees’ Providend Fund Organisation (EPFO) are added to the P.D.S. Scheme and the L.P.G. Distribution Scheme as mentioned in the order dated 11.08.2015, it will not dilute the earlier order passed by this Court. The 3-judge bench order dated 11.08.2015 mentioned that the Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and  the LPG Distribution Scheme. [Justice K.S.Puttaswamy (Retd) v. Union of India, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 969, dated 15.10.2015]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Sitting on the matter relating to the ambitious “Aadhaar Card” scheme propounded by the Government of India under the said scheme the Government of India is collecting and compiling both the demographic and biometric data of the residents of this country to be used for various purposes, the bench of 3 judge bench of J. Chelameswar, S.A. Bobde and C. Nagappan, JJ referred the matter to a 5-judge bench. However, the Court said that till the matter is finally decided by the larger bench, it will not be mandatory for a citizen to obtain Aadhaar Card and also, production of an Aadhaar card will not be condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.

After considering the submissions made by Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General and KK Venugopal, the Court held that the Unique Identification Number or the Aadhaar card will not be used by the respondents for any purpose other than the PDS Scheme and in particular for the purpose of distribution of foodgrains, etc. and cooking fuel, such as kerosene. The Aadhaar card may also be used for the purpose of the LPG Distribution Scheme. The Court further held that the information about an individual obtained by the Unique Identification Authority of India while issuing an Aadhaar card shall not be used for any other purpose, save as above, except as may be directed by a Court for the purpose of criminal investigation. Justice K.S. Puttaswamy (Retd.) v. Union of India, decided on 11.08.2015