Updated: March 18, 2021 2:57:01 am
The Supreme Court on Wednesday sought the response of the Centre and states on a plea which contended that three crore ration cards were cancelled between 2013 and 2016, allegedly over non-linkage to Aadhaar, thereby leading to denial of rations for the needy.
“It is a serious issue,” a bench headed by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde said, adding that it should not be treated as adversarial.
The court was hearing a plea by Koili Devi from Jharkhand, who alleged that cancellation of ration cards had led to starvation deaths.
Advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Devi, told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that the petitioner’s daughter had died due to starvation as they were denied benefits because of non-linkage of their ration card to Aadhaar.
“More than three crore cards cancelled at the Central level. In every State, 10 to 15 lakh cards are cancelled. There are situations where fingerprints or iris scanner does not work in tribal areas,” he said.
Representing the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Aman Lekhi, said the plea was only based on newspaper reports and pointed out that there is a grievance redressal under the Food Security Act which had not been availed before moving court.
Terming the plea “misconceived”, he said that if Aadhaar is not available, alternative documents can be submitted. “This point has not been argued. We have clearly said Aadhaar or no Aadhaar, it will not deny the right to food,” Lekhi submitted.
The court said, “We are asking you (Centre) to respond because of the Aadhaar issue. This is not an adversarial litigation.” The court issued notice returnable in four weeks and added that it will keep the matter for final hearing.
The court also issued notice to the states, “calling upon them to apprise steps they have taken for implementation of the grievances redressal mechanism contained in Sections 14, 15 and 16 of the National Food Security Act, 2013”.
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