The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday declared as “illegal” the West Bengal government’s ‘Duare Ration’ (doorstep ration) scheme, reported Live Law. Launched by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government, the ‘Duare Ration’ scheme provided ration items at the doorsteps of beneficiaries. The scheme was part of the CM’s election manifesto.
A Division Bench of the HC comprising Justice Aniruddha Roy and Chitta Ranjan Dash today held that the public distribution system is illegal and ultra vires (beyond the powers) against the National Food Security Act, 2013.
“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 that is ‘National Food Security Act’,” the bench observed.
The judges further said that a scheme such as the one initiated by the Mamata government could only be said to be in sync with law if the National Food Security Act is amended by the Parliament to provide for doorstep delivery of food grains to the beneficiaries by state governments.
“Accordingly, we hold that the state government in making the ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ has exceeded the limit of delegation by the enabling Act.”
The HC bench was hearing pleas by ration dealers who claimed that the pet project of the CM was not feasible for home delivery of food grains.
A single-judge bench of Justice Krishna Rao had earlier in June dismissed the plea stating that there was “nothing illegal” in the scheme. The dealers, then, moved the division bench.
In the run-up to the Assembly elections, the CM had promised the scheme, and implemented it after assuming office for the third term.
The Chief Minister, while inaugurating the scheme in November this year, had claimed that ten crore people will benefit from it.