PIL No. 11 of 2020
Section 24,35 of the Food Act, 2013
After the lockdown being announced by the Hon‟ble Prime Minister of India, the Government of Manipur issued an order closing schools, colleges, hospital etc. as a precautionary measure and in consequence thereof, the Chief Minister, Manipur made an announcement that PDS rice for the month of April, 2020 would be distributed to all free of costs. PIL has been filed by the petitioners based on the information collected by them. Manipur Alliance for Child Rights approached the Manipur Human Rights Commission with a prayer to direct that various schemes including Mid-Day Meal, ICDS etc. be implemented during the period of lockdown. The Secretary, Hill Tribal Tenants‟ Committee, Imphal filed a complaint to the Manipur Human Rights Commission contending that there are about 1168 tribal tenants at Imphal who have been left out from the distribution of essential commodities. The Chief Secretary, Manipur issued order to the concerned authorities to distribute the rice and dal to the entitled persons.
Free dal and rice to be given only to those who have card, free of cost.
The Food Act,2013, give authority to MLA’s to distribute food.
State Government or Officer can delegate its power with regard to distribution of rice under the Targeted Public Distribution System.
The court observes that, if there is non-implementation of the Targeted Public Distribution System, the Food Act of, 2013, clearly states the duty on the government to ensure actual delivery and supply. Section 24(2) of the Food Act,2013 clearly states that it is the sole duty of the State Government to take delivery of food grains from the designated depots of the Central Government in the State, at the prices specified in the Schedule-I; to organize intra-state allocation for delivery of the allocated food grains through their authorised agencies at the door-step of each fair price shop and to ensure actual delivery or supply of the food grains to the entitled persons at the prices specified in the Schedule-I". The Cory further observes that, if the delegation of duty is made by the state government or officer to any other person to distribute the rice, his action considered to be illegal and liable to be punished.
The court held, all the fair shop owners to maintain records in the form of entries made in ration cards to show the actual distribution of the food. During the course of inspection any irregularity/ illegality is found in the distribution of PDS items, the same may be informed to the concerned Vigilance Committee or the District Grievance Redressal Officer or the State Food Commission for appropriate action. All Non-card holders also shall be given rice free of cost as announced by the Hon‟ble Chief Minister, Manipur and any non- card holder is aggrieved due to the non-supply or supply of less quantity of rice may lodge a complaint in the same manner as has been directed by this Court.
ARTICLE 19(1)(a),32 of CONSTITUTION, SECTION 153, 153A, 153B, 295A, 298, 500, 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860