The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Central Government on a PIL pertaining to the cancellation of 3 crore ration cards and deaths by starvation as a consequence.
The bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice V. Ramasubramanian said this is a very serious matter and listed the matter for final hearing after four months.
Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the Central Government has cancelled 3 crore ration cards, which has resulted in the death of many people in tribal areas due to starvation. Chief Justice Bobde vehemently protested the claim, saying this kind of allegation on the Central Government is not going to help anybody.
Chief Justice Bobde further said the deaths are taking place in the tribes and the tribe are subject matter in the state list. Therefore, the state government should look into this matter.
Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi clarified that the absence of an Aadhaar card will not result in the cancellation of ration card and said there were other measures in that case. He added that this matter falls within the ambit of the state government and not the Centre.
Senior Advocate Gonsalves informed that the cancellation of ration cards has been done by the Central Government on the grounds that these people do not hold valid Aadhaar cards. He explained that it is not the case that these people don’t have the valid Aadhaar card, but they are so backward and poor that they have not been able to get the Aadhaar card issued for themselves.
Senior Advocate Gonsalves also pointed out that in the KS Puttaswamy vs. Union of India, the Supreme Court held that the absence of Aadhaar Card will not result in cancellation of Ration cards. To which, Chief Justice Bobde said the bench will not belittle this matter and it is a very serious matter, therefore we are issuing notice returnable in 4 weeks.
The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) filed this writ petition on starvation deaths occurring in the country. The petition aims to resolve the problem of lakhs of people who are being denied rations due to Aadhaar-related problems. HRLN filed the petition on behalf of the mother and sister of Santoshi, an 11-year-old girl from Simdega, Karimati in Jharkhand, who died of starvation on September 28, 2017. The mother, Koili Devi, and sister, Gudiya Devi, were the petitioners along with a social activist.