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Free Foodgrains Distribution
SC raps Pawar, says ruling was an order

New Delhi, August 31
The Supreme Court today made it clear that it had ordered free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot in godowns and it was not a suggestion as made out by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the Minister," the court told the government counsel.

The apex court had on August 12 asked the Centre to consider free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot in Food Corporation of India godowns.

The court had passed the direction while dealing with a public interest litigation filed by civil rights group PUCL on rampant corruption in Public Distribution System (PDS) besides rotting of food grains in FCI godowns.

Following this, Pawar had said it was not possible to implement the "suggestion" of the court for free distribution.

Today, a Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma referred to newspaper reports quoting Pawar that the apex court had only made a suggestion and it was not an order.

"You tell the Minister that it is there in the order, it is part of the order," the Bench said.

The court directed the government to conduct a fresh survey of the BPL/ ABPL/AAY beneficiaries on the basis of the figures available for 2010 and said the authorities cannot rely on a decade-old data to extend the benefits.

The Bench further said that the government must take urgent steps to prevent further rotting of food grains while maintaining that it must procure only that much quantity which it can preserve.

The Bench reiterated its earlier order that persons above poverty line shall not be entitled to subsidised foodgrains but if the Government was determined to extend the benefit, the same shall be given to those families whose annual income is below Rs three lakh. — PTI




Will follow SC: Pawar
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 31
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar assured Parliament today that he will honour the decision of the Supreme Court on free distribution of foodgrains to the poor.

"This government will honour the decision of the Supreme Court. Members' suggestions will also be considered," he said responding to the issue raised by Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj in the Lok Sabha, which generated considerable heat in the Lok Sabha with the House being adjourned for 15 minutes to cool down tempers today.

Earlier the Supreme Court clarified that its counsel to the Government on August 12 to distribute free foodgrain rotting in the open to the poor was no suggestion as interpreted by Pawar but an express direction.

The minister told the House that he had heard about the apex court observations from the media but added that it would be “improper” to comment without reading the official order of the apex court as it could even amount to misleading the House.

He was reacting to Swaraj who informed the House that the apex Court said, “It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the Minister.” She raised the issue interrupting a discussion on the Indian Medicine Central Council (Amendment) Bill, 2010, prompting an impromptu debate on the matter and demands for presence of Pawar in the House.

Swaraj said, “We want the Agriculture Minister to give us an assurance that the foodgrains would be distributed among the poor. The government should give us a plan to do it within a week,” she said.

Amid slogans from the opposition benches asking the government to give an answer, Sharad Yadav (JD-U) also reiterated the same saying, “The government should distribute the foodgrains to drought prone areas.” Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav also demanded the same saying, “The situation is grim.”

As the opposition members shouted slogans of “Call Pawar”, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said, “they raise the matter and expect the minister to be here in a minute.” “They are making a mockery of Parliament,” he said, adding “BJP wants to create an uproar and nothing else.” RJD leader Lalu Prasad asked the government to send the rotting foodgrains to drought affected Bihar, to which Bansal said, “We will give it to you to distribute.”




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