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Delhi High Court disposes of plea filed by Delhi ration shops for frontline essential worker status

The plea pointed out that vide Delhi Government’s order dated March 26, 2020, the fair price shop owners and ration shop dealers were obligated to open their shops seven days a week, in order to distribute ration to ration holders and other needy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

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The Delhi High Court on Friday refused to continue monitoring a plea, which was filed in May this year when the Covid-19 pandemic was raging, seeking the declaration of fair price shop owners and their employees as “frontline essential workers”. 

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh noted, “Now the respondents (Delhi Govt) are already giving free-of-charge vaccines to all persons. Hence, there is no question of giving any priority to the fair price shop owners. At this stage, we see no reason to monitor this case.”

The Bench, however, reserved liberty with the petitioners to approach the Court in future if need arises. The plea has been filed by the Delhi Ration Dealers Union and its members, through Advocates Yash Aggarwal and Chitrakshi.

The plea pointed out that vide Delhi Government’s order dated March 26, 2020, the fair price shop owners and ration shop dealers were obligated to open their shops seven days a week, in order to distribute ration to ration holders and other needy amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was asserted in the petition that since the ration shop owners and their workers are involved in day-to-day public dealing to ensure that no person is deprived of basic necessity, they must be declared as ‘front line essential workers’ on the ground that while performing their duty of distributing rations, they selflessly expose themselves to the undetected virus on a daily basis.

“It is to be taken into consideration that since the lockdown imposed on 1st of March 2020, ration shop workers are working, and they have not even got a single holiday. Still they have performed their duty toward society with the utmost honour,” the plea averred.

The plea highlighted that other States like Rajasthan have started declaring the fair price shop owners in their States as front line workers.

In light of the above, the plea, apart from declaration of fair price shop owners and their employees as front line workers, also sought extension of all the benefits upon them as are entitled to front line workers, including insurance, compensation in case of death and coverage of medical expenses. The plea further sought directions to provide essential items  including masks, sanitizers and face shields to these people on a daily basis.

In addition, the plea prayed for deployment of civil defence volunteers at the ration shops for the purposes of managing and maintaining crowd and ensuring that social distancing is being followed by the people.

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