The Delhi High Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Central government on public interest litigation (PIL) seeking directions to provide free ration to all persons with disabilities under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Kalyan Yojana.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan sought the response of the Centre (Department of Food and Public Distribution) after it was informed that the persons with disabilities are struggling to survive during the pandemic.
The PIL sought the inclusion of persons with disabilities under the category of priority households to ensure that they can reap the benefits of the National Food Security Act.
The matter is slated to come up for further hearing before the court on July 22.
Senior advocate Santosh Kumar Rungta, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that persons with disabilities have lost their livelihood during the pandemic and that it is the responsibility of the Centre to identify beneficiaries of each state for food security act, which has not happened.
"The National food security act is aimed at providing subsidised food grains to identified priority households and the ones included in the Antodaya Anna Yojana," Rungta stated.
The PIL sought directions to the Central government to direct all States and Union Territories under Section 38 of the National Food Security Act to provide food grains free of cost to poor persons with disabilities as was done for migrant labourers and others.
It also sought directions to give free ration to all persons with disabilities without ration cards on the basis of their disability certificates and or Unique Disability ID under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Kalyan Yojana.
The plea, filed by National Federation of the Blind through advocates Santosh Kumar Rungta and Pratiti Rungta, sought the issuance of directions for the purpose of implementation of the food security scheme and also to ensure that at least 5 percent beneficiaries of food security scheme are persons with disabilities as defined in the Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act.
"As the persons with disabilities belong to the most marginalised group in the society with very little opportunities for earning a livelihood and therefore their exclusion from the category of eligible persons under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and priority household for the purpose of implementation of the food security scheme guaranteed under National Food Security Act, 2013, is against the spirit and object of National Food Security Act, 2013," the plea said.
It submitted that the provisions of the Persons With Disabilities Act 1995 mandate 3 percent reservation in all poverty alleviation programmes, including National Food Security scheme as well as Section 37(b) of Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016, which mandates 5 percent reservation for persons with disabilities in all poverty alleviation programmes.