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States & UTs

Bengal govt to challenge Calcutta HC's order on 'ration at doorsteps' in SC

The Hawk
September29/ 2022

Kolkata: The West Bengal government has decided to approach the Supreme Court to challenge the order of the Calcutta High Court’s division bench of declaring the ‘Duare Ration’ (ration at doorsteps) scheme as illegal.

On Wednesday, division bench of Justice Chittaranjan Das and Justice Aniruddha Roy, while declaring the ‘Duare Ration project’ as illegal, observed that the said scheme was contrary to the National Food Security Act, 2013 and hence should be discontinued with.

A senior official from the state law department, on strict condition of anonymity, pointed out some of the points to be highlighted before the Supreme Court.

“Months after the project was launched a section of the fair price shop dealers approached the-then Calcutta High Court’s single- judge bench of Justice Amrita Sinha. That single- judge bench dismissed the petition demanding scrapping of the ‘Duare Ration scheme’ then. Justice Sinha then gave her own reasons on why she dismissed the petition. Our counsels will review that order and highlight the reasons given by Justice Sinha at the apex court,” the official said.

The second point that the state government proposes to highlight is that when the ‘Duare Ration scheme’ has already been launched by spending crores of rupees, its scraping in the midway will result in loss of the entire money spent.

However, legal experts feel that going by the point highlighted by the division bench of Calcutta High Court that the project is contrary to the National Food Security Act, 2013, then there is little possibility of getting a reverse order at the apex court.

“Remember that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government also made a similar attempt to ensure supply of foodgrains under the public distribution system at the doorsteps of the people of the state. However, the scheme also had to be called off following a court directive on similar legal grounds,” said senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court, Kaushik Gupta.

According to economist Santanu Basu, the ‘ration at doorsteps’ scheme was coined by vote- strategist Prasant Kishor both for AAP and Trinamool Congress as a major campaign point before the respective Assembly election in Delhi and West Bengal. “This campaign line might have reaped rich political dividends for both AAP and Trinamool Congress in the polls. But, surely the projects were launched both in Delhi and West Bengal without considering its legal consequences as well as the practical applicability in the long run. That is why the project in both states have received legal jolts,” he said.