"Let no one die of hunger:" Allahabad High Court quashes UP Govt order to give preference to “self-help groups” in allotment of fair price shop
The Allahabad High Court ruled on Monday that giving preference to "self-help groups" in the allocation of fair price shops is unconstitutional and violates the norms of the National Food Security Act and the Uttar Pradesh Panchayati Raj Act. The right to eat is a fundamental right, according to the court, and no one should go hungry. (Haripal v. Uttar Pradesh) The Court concluded that the judiciary has a legal obligation to ensure that the state provides good quality food grains to the poor. "The judiciary owes a legal obligation to the underprivileged population," the Court stated, "for which the constitutional courts are duty obligated to investigate the State's obligation relating to the provision of quality food grains during this crisis, failing which the health hazard may take on unprecedented proportions and may render the nation helpless." The right to food is a fundamental right, and no one should go hungry, according to the Court, which added that the Court would be failing in its duty if it failed to recognize the condition of the poor during the pandemic. As a result, a single-judge bench led by Justice AR Masoodi overturned a government directive dated July 7, 2020 that granted preference to self-help groups in the allocation of fair price shops while excluding all other organisations. "For the reasons stated above, this Court has no problem in holding that the Government order of July 7, 2020, insofar as it excludes persons other than Self-help Groups from consideration, is discriminatory and violates Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The challenged government decision, dated July 7, 2020, also violates Section 12(2(e) of the Act, as well as Clause 7(2) of the State Government's Control Order, 2016." In this context, the Court further asked the Supreme Court, which hears suo motu petitions, to "examine the issue of food grain distribution to the vulnerable portion" of the population and ensure government accountability in respect to quantity and quality issues. Self-help groups are not given a unique identity number by some body known as the 'National Rural Livelihood Development Mission,' according to the State Government. The National Rural Livelihood Development Mission's issuance of a unique ID for the purpose of granting a licence to operate a fair price shop on behalf of the state is insufficient.