The Gauhati High Court has directed the Deputy Commissioner of Kamrup district to issue ration cards within eight weeks as per the National Food Security Act, 2013 to families identified by para-legal volunteers and who fulfill conditions for such cards.
The Division Bench of Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Malasri Nandi said perhaps the Inspector of Food and Civil Supplies attached to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (M) or any such competent authority as the Deputy Commissioner may deem fit appropriate may identify such beneficiaries in absence of the Ward Commissioner.
Accordingly, the Bench directed that the Inspector of Food and Civil Supplies or any such competent authority as the Deputy Commissioner may deem fit appropriate, as directed above, may identify the beneficiaries.
The court said that this direction is issued only as a temporary arrangement. The Court posted the matter on March 2, 2022 for further hearing.
The bench was hearing a PIL by Syeda Mehzebin Rahman pertaining to the issuance of ration cards for households in slum areas of Uzanbazar, Bharalumukh, Santipur, and Bhutnath.
It is submitted that though some of the beneficiaries have been identified for the purpose of issuance of ration cards, as because the beneficiaries could not be identified by the concerned counsel or of the respective Municipal Boards, the matter could not be finalized.
It is further submitted that since the election has not taken place in Gauhati Municipal Corporation, there is no Ward Commissioner who will identify the applicants.
In this regard, the High Court has also observed that the Secretary, District Legal Service Authority, Kamrup (M) filed an affidavit on July 12, 2021 indicating the exercise undertaken by the para-legal volunteers to identify such beneficiaries in terms of the order passed by this Court on June 14, 2021 where this Court had directed that the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Kamrup (Metro) through its Para Legal Volunteers shall identify such families who need help in the present Covid-19 pandemic and inform the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro), who shall after confirmation ensure that such families be given help immediately, in form of food and other day-to-day support promptly.
In that view of the matter, the Court directed the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup(M) will do the needful in respect of such families which have been identified by para-legal volunteers and who fulfill the conditions for grant of such benefit within 8 weeks by following the National Food Security Act, 2013 and the guidelines issued in that regard.
The High Court further clarified that if the benefits under this Act could not be extended because of any lack of documentation or identification document, the same may be specified before the Court so that appropriate order can be passed.