Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday declared as illegal the West Bengal government’s much-vaunted scheme “duare ration” or “ration at your doorstep”.
The court felt the government had overstepped the limits of delegation by asking dealers to take rations to people’s homes.
A division bench of Justices Aniruddha Roy and Chitta Ranjan Dash said: “State Government has transgressed the limit of delegation by obliging the Fair Price Shop dealers to distribute the rations to the beneficiaries at their doorstep in absence of any authority to that effect in the enabling Act that is ‘National Food Security Act’.”
A section of ration dealers, who moved the High Court, had claimed the scheme was not feasible to home deliver food grains. In June this year, the Calcutta High single bench of Justice Krishna Rao dismissed the plea, stating there was nothing “illegal” in the scheme.
The dealers then moved a division bench, which on Wednesday stayed Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s pet project.
The judges also said: “If the National Food Security Act is amended by the wisdom of the Union Legislature i.e. Parliament for doorstep delivery of food grains to the beneficiaries or invest any such power to the State Government then only such a scheme can be made by the State and that can be said to be in sync with the enabling Act. Accordingly, we hold that the State Government in making the ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ has exceeded the limit of delegation by the enabling Act.”
After the judgement, BJP Member of Parliament Dilip Ghosh claimed the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) government had adopted a “politics over welfare” approach with this scheme.
He said: “So many people lock their homes and go to the fields in rural areas. Who will take the doorstep delivery? Then those excess ration will end up at TMC leaders houses. In the name of welfare, the TMC government is busy playing politics” he told ThePrint.
Mamata Banerjee had announced the “duare ration” scheme as a poll promise in the run-up to West Bengal Assembly elections and implemented this project after assuming office for the third consecutive term.
On 13 September 2021, the state government issued the notification and in November the scheme was flagged off by Mamata. “Ten crore people will benefit from the scheme. I urge all ration dealers to make it a success,” Mamata had said.
TMC MP Sougata Roy was disappointed at the verdict, saying: “Mamata Banerjee wanted to help the poor. I am not in agreement with what the Calcutta High Court has said today. The Honourable Court has the right to express itself, but this scheme was first announced by the Delhi government.”