In the matter of Haripal v. State of UP & Ors, the Allahabad High Court on 24th May, extended their request to the Apex Court to take into the consideration the issue of distribution of food grains to the people belonging to the vulnerable section of the society. In the view of the pandemic where the various states of country are under lockdown and curfew, there’s a huge problem of access to basic needs such as food to various section of the society. Taking this into the consideration, The Bench of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi, requested the Apex Court to suo motu petitions, that includes the issue of distribution of food grains to vulnerable section of people. The courts are required to ensure the accountability of the same in terms of issues related to quantity and quality which constitutes a cognizable cause.
The Allahabad High Court, focused on the fact that after the Gram Panchayat election in Uttar Pradesh, the pandemic has taken a drastic increase in the number of cases. Thus the issue related to the distribution of food grains in the present situation of unemployment has become huge and in the middle of the pandemic, and the plight of underprivileged people is going unnoticed in the present scenario.
The Bench of Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi also observed that the impugned in favour of the Self-help Groups that generally have a comparatively weak legal identity for the purposes of fixation of accountability. Thus they are suspected to “worsen” the objects of Public Distribution System.
The court also highlighted the Section-15 of the Panchayat Raj Act, 1947 i.e. U.P. Act No. 9 of 1994 and thereby the functioning of Gram Panchayats was enlarged to the promotion of Public Distribution System for awareness and distribution of essential commodities. Thus the court acknowledged the fact that the judiciary owes a legal obligation towards such citizens, wherein the constitutional courts, are duty bounded in relation to distribution of a handsome quality and quantity of food grains during this health crisis.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court on the very same day issued direction for distribution to migrant workers who are stranded throughout the country under Atma Nirbhar Scheme or any other scheme which deems to be found suitable by the States/Centre. Thus in order to ensure the same directions were given to the states to file affidavits to indicate the mechanism of distribution of dry ration to those who do not possess a ration card. The Apex Court also left it on the discretion of the states to decide which scheme should be utilized to achieve the same.