Plea to resume e-coupon ration scheme under MMCSY

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Thursday sought the Delhi government's reply on a plea by an NGO seeking resumption of the MMCSY scheme under which foodgrain was provided during COVID-19 lockdown to those not covered under the Public Distribution System (PDS).

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad issued notice to the Delhi government seeking its stand on the plea which also seeks resumption of the hunger relief centres for providing cooked meals to those in need. The court asked the Delhi government as to why it cannot extend the Mukhya Mantri Corona Sahayta Yojna (MMCSY) while the coronavirus pandemic persists.

It sought to know as to where would the people, not covered under PDS, go for dry ration if all desks and kiosks for helping them have been shut down as claimed by the NGO. Delhi government, represented by Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain and additional standing counsel Anuj Aggarwal, told the court that the scheme was for the period when due to lockdown there was cessation of economic activity.

They said that it was a "one-time" relief package and was discontinued after the lockdown was lifted. The government said it will file its response to the application which has sought a direction to it to continue accepting e-coupon applications under the MMCSY scheme and to continue operating the kiosks and help desks facilitating them.

The application has contended that the government's discontinuance of the scheme of distribution of foodgrain to non-ration card holders (non-PDS), despite the national disaster declaration still being in force and despite no measure of normalcy having returned in the country or the state, was a violation of the right to food and right to life of lakhs of people of Delhi.

"Despite repeated orders of this Court to issue dry rations to non-PDS beneficiaries through an effective scheme, it is submitted that the said scheme has not been extended beyond the second phase of distribution which commenced in May 2020," the application has said. It also said that the scheme was started in April 2020, for giving rations to people not covered under the PDS scheme and on the high court's direction it was extended for another month.

The petition added that while the Delhi government had extended ration entitlements under the National Food Security Act, "not providing rations to other people in a similar predicament, merely on the basis that they do not possess a ration card, on account of the system followed of having upper limit on the number of ration cardholders, is arbitrary and in violation of the fundamental right to food of people.."

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