Bengal govt’s ‘ration at doorsteps’ project illegal: Calcutta HC

The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government received a major jolt from the Calcutta High Court on Wednesday after a division bench declared the state government’s ‘Duare Ration’ (ration at doorsteps) scheme as illegal.

A pet project of Mamata Banerjee, the project was launched soon after she became the chief minister for the third consecutive term after the 2021 West Bengal Assembly polls and was intended to provide foodgrains under the public distribution system at the doorsteps of the people of the state.

Calcutta High Court’s division bench of Justice Chittaranjan Das and Justice Aniruddha Roy, while declaring the ‘Duare Ration project’ as illegal, observed that the said project was contrary to the National Food Security Act, 2013 and hence should be discontinued with.

Soon after the project was launched a section of fair price shop dealers approached the Calcutta High Court’s single-judge bench of Justice Amrita Sinha, demanding scrapping of the projects as it was not possible practically to provide foodgrains under the public distribution system at the doorsteps of the people of the state.

However, Justice Sinha rejected the plea of the fair price shop dealers at that point of time. Thereafter, the dealers approached the said division bench of the Calcutta High Court challenging the decision of Justice Sinha’s single-judge bench. Finally, on Wednesday afternoon, the Calcutta High Court division bench declared the ‘Duare Ration scheme’ as not having any legal sanctity.

The development is perceived to be a major setback for the West Bengal government considering the fact it was a pet project of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. This scheme was a major campaign line of her for the 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections when she said that days of long queues in front of the fair price shops in the state will be over once the Duare Ration project is put in place.

Till the time the report was filed there was no reaction either from the state government or from the ruling Trinamool Congress on this development and it is yet to be clear on whether the state government will challenge the order of the division bench of the Calcutta High Court at the Supreme Court.

In fact, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government also made a similar attempt to ensure supply of foodgrains under the public distribution system at the doorsteps of the people of the state. However, the scheme also had to be called off following a court directive.

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