The Calcutta High Court on Wednesday declared the ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ (ration at the doorstep) of West Bengal government is ultra vires to the National Food Security Act, 2013 and is legally void.
The judgement was passed on an appeal by fair price shop dealers challenging the order of a single bench of the High Court that there was no illegality in the scheme introduced by the state government.
The division bench of Justices Chitta Ranjan Dash and Aniruddha Roy held that the ‘Duare Ration Scheme’ is “ultra vires of the National Food Security Act., 2013” and “is therefore a nullity in the eye of the law”.
“The 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, i.e, the National Food Security Act.” the division bench observed.
It said that if the NFS Act is amended by the Union Legislature for doorstep delivery of food grains to the beneficiaries or invests any such power to the state government only then can such a scheme be made by the state and can be said to be in sync with the NFS Act.
The scheme was introduced by the Mamata Banerjee government in November, 2021, for delivery of food grains under public distribution system at the doorsteps of beneficiaries.
On a petition by the fair price shop dealers the single bench of Justice Krishna Rao had on June 16 held that the state government’s decision to deliver food grains at the door steps of the beneficiaries “cannot be said to be in violation of any provision of the NFS Act.” The fair price shop dealers had moved the division bench challenging the judgement of the single bench.