Calcutta High Court: The single bench of Krishna Rao, J., dismissed the writ petition appeal and held that there is no illegality in the WB Duare Ration Scheme, 2021, under which the state government provides delivery and supply of food grains at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries through Public Distribution System.
The present writ petition application was filed for declaring the notification dated 13-09-2021 which amended Clause 18 of the WB Public Distribution System (Maintenance and Control) Order, 2013(WBPDS Control Order) and the WB Duare Ration Scheme, 2021 dated 16-11-2021 as ultra vires to Essential Commodities Act, 1955(ECA), National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA), Central Control Order, 2015 and also Article 14, 19(I) (g), 21 and 254 of the Constitution of India.
The issue to be decided on
Is there a bar on the State Government to provide an additional benefit for delivery of food grains at the door steps under the Statutory Scheme contained in the NFSA, the rules framed, and the orders issued by the Central Government under the ECA?
Analysis and Decision
The Court stated that Section 24(2)(b) of the NFSA obligates the State Governments to ensure actual delivery of supply of food grains to the entitled persons at the prices specified in Schedule-I and Section 32 of the NFSA, enabling the Central Government or the State Governments, inter alia, to formulate other food-based welfare schemes. Further, the Court stated that Clause 35 of the WBPDS Control Order allows the State Government to amend or introduce fresh provisions that are not inconsistent with the Act.
On a conjoint reading of the above provisions, the Court opined that actual delivery of ration at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries is covered within the scope of authority and responsibility vested by the State Government. Therefore, the Court held that the decision of the State Government to deliver foodgrains at the doorsteps of the beneficiaries cannot be said to violate any provision of the NFSA and the Rules framed, or order issued under the ECA.
Hence, the Court found no illegality in the amendment of Clause 18 of the WBPDS Control Order dated 13-09-2021 and the WB Duare Ration Scheme, 2021 dated 16-11-2021.
[Sk. Manowar Ali v. State of W.B., 2022 SCC OnLine Cal 1679, decided on 16-06-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Saktinath Mukherjee, Sr. Adv, Debabrata Saha Roy, Pingal Bhattacharya, and Neil Basu, Advocates, for the Petitioners;
S.N. Mookherjee, Ld. A.G., Anirban Ray, Ld. G.P., Sirsanya Bandopadhyay, Sanjay Basu, Arka Kumar Nag, Piyush Agarwal, and Utsha Dasgupta, Advocates ,for the State
Ajay Chaubey, Sunil Gupta, and A. Jaiswal, Advocates, for the Union of India.