Noticing that the court is being flooded with litigation about indiscriminate allotment of fair price shops and discrimination in the assignment of ration cards to these shops, the High Court of Karnataka has directed the Commissioner for Food and Civil Supplies to ensure that norms are strictly adhered to in these processes.
The commissioner’s 2020 circular, which had directed the officials to consider allotment of new fair price shops only after verification of documents without giving scope to any allegation or complaint, has remained only on paper, the court said.
Pointing out that in every allotment of fair price shop there would be a complaint and writ petitions are filed, the court directed the government to ensure that provisions of the Karnataka Essential Commodities Public Distribution System (Control) Order, 2016, are strictly adhered to.
Justice M. Nagaprasanna made these observations while disposing of a petition filed by Manjunath B. of Bengaluru questioning the cancellation of licence granted to him to operate a fair price shop.
“The authorities while allotting the cards should by and large seek to maintain the terms in Clause 11 of the order which directs that there should be 800 cards to a fair price shop in the urban area and 500 cards in the rural area. The writ courts cannot be expected to join the race of rival claimants of taking away of cards or giving of cards,” the court observed.
As the government advocate pointed out that the policy today is ‘one nation, one ration card’, and any ration card holder can pick up his ration from any fair price depot and there is no need to depend on the allotted shop, the court said that if that is the policy then it is for the State to take the policy forward and redress all these problems of assigning ration cards at the whims and fancy of the deputy directors and other officials.