Showing posts with label PIL on Benefits to disabled under food security and poverty alleviation schemes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PIL on Benefits to disabled under food security and poverty alleviation schemes. Show all posts

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Delhi HC seeks response of All States & UTs on PIL by NFB for Food grains to Disabled under Various poverty alleviation Schemes [Order Included]

New Delhi, 30 Jul 2020

Delhi High Court on 29 Jul 2020 sought response of all the states and union territories on a PIL seeking directions to them and the Centre to provide benefits of the various food security and poverty alleviation schemes to persons with disabilities (PWDs). The PIL is titled as W.P.(C) 3976/2020 National Federation of Blind Vs. Union of India & Anr.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices to all the states and union territories (UTs) seeking their stand on the plea after they were also impleaded as parties in the petition by National Federation of Blind (NFB).  The high court listed the matter for further hearing on August 13.

Earlier,  the Bench had issued notices to Union of India (Min. of Consumer Affairs- Respondent 1) and DEPWD (Responder 2) on 07th July 2020 returnable on 22 Jul 2020, when this PIL seeking 5% reservation in all poverty alleviation schemes and food-grains to people with vision impairment and other disabilities under various poverty alleviation Schemes was filed by the NFB.

Counter Affidavit of DEPWD (Respondent-2).

Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, i.e. the 2nd respondent submitted the following in its counter affidavit-

“The Central Government has enacted the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (RPwD) and the rules thereto in 2017. As per Section 37 (b) of the RPwD Act, 2016, the appropriate Governments are required to frame schemes and programmes in favour of Persons with Benchmark Disabilities (benchmark disability means disability of 40% or more) to provide for 5% reservation in poverty alleviation schemes and development schemes giving priority to women and benchmark disabilities.

The food security programme under the National Food Security Act, 2013 is mainly aimed at uplifting of the poor and hence construed as a poverty alleviation programme. Therefore, the provision of reservation as per Section 37 (b) of the RPwD Act mandating of 5% in food security is applicable.

As per Section 96 of the RPwD Act, the provisions of the Act shall be in additional to, and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. Therefore, the provisions of the RPwD Act, 2016 have to be read with the relevant section of the National Food Security Act, 2013 for ensuring synergetic implementation of both the Acts. The benefit of 5% reservation in food security programme can be extended to the persons with benchmark disabilities on the basis of certificate of disability issued by the competent medical authorities of the States/UTs.

It may be mentioned that as per allocation of Business Rules 1961, notified by Cabinet Secretariat, Government of India, "the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities is the nodal Department of overall policy, planning and coordination of programs for Persons with Disabilities. However, overall management and monitoring etc. of the sectoral programs in respect of this group shall be the responsibility of the concerned Central Ministries, State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. Each Central Ministry or Department shall discharge nodal responsibility concerning its own sector." Therefore, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Department of Food and Public Distribution, Government of India being nodal authority for ensuring implementing food security programmes need to take appropriate measures in line with provisions of the RPwD Act, 2016. "

Hearing on 22nd July 2020

Mr. S. K. Rungta, General Secretary of the petitioner had argued that as per the provisions of Section 37(b) of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 (the Disabilities Act), a reservation of 5% has been provided to persons with disabilities in all poverty alleviation and various developmental schemes. He further submitted that poverty alleviation schemes enacted under any law for the time being in force are also covered under Section 37(b) of the Disabilities Act.

He had further argued that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and schemes established under the National Food Security Act, 2013 are also poverty alleviation schemes and, therefore, covered under Section 37(b) of the Disabilities Act. He had submitted that under Section 24(1) of the Disabilities Act, the benefit of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana should be extended and made applicable to all the persons who are covered under the Disabilities Act, 2016, whether or not they have ration cards. He had requested that when such persons come to collect their ration for the first time, the relevant formalities may be completed for issuance of ration cards to them at the earliest to enable them to get their ration next time under the scheme.

The petitioner had sought directions to the Centre to ensure that states and Union Territories provide benefits of welfare schemes, like Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Kalyan Yojana, to PWD also during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remarks of the Bench on 22 Jul 20
The bench, on the last date of hearing on July 22, had remarked that Persons with Disabilities have been excluded from welfare schemes "from time immemorial". The bench had observed, "Fact that persons with disabilities get marginalised from every scheme does not require a debate".

The Central Govt. Counsel had sought time to seek instructions and the matter was fixed for 29 Jul 2020.

Response of The Ministry of Consumer Affairs  (Respondent-1)

Respondent-1 filed its response to the PIL and contended that the National Food Security Act (NFSA) is neither a poverty alleviation nor a development scheme. It said that unlike the targeted Public Distribution System (PDS), which was based on poverty levels, NFSA uniformly covers 67 per cent of the total population in the country. NFSA not only covers the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) but also the below poverty line and a certain portion of the above poverty line category.

The ministry of Consumer Affairs stated in its affidavit that all the beneficiaries are provided foodgrains at the same issue price. The NFSA has been therefore delinked from the poverty estimates.  It also stated that disability as an eligibility criteria already exists in the AAY guidelines and majority of the states and UTs have included it for identification of beneficiaries and priority households under NFSA.

"Notwithstanding this, the central government has further issued directions to all state governments on July 24 to ensure coverage of all disabled persons. This was reiterated over video conference with the states on July 24, 2020," the affidavit said. It also said that 5 Kg foodgrains per month for two months i.e. May and June 2020 was provided to about 8 crore migrant labour, who are not covered under NFSA or state scheme PDS cards, at a cost of Rs 3,500 crore and the validity of the scheme has been extended till August 31.

Therefore, "disabled persons can be covered under this scheme" and they can avail its benefits for the months of July and August without a ration card, the ministry has said.


The petitioner has contended that Persons with disabilities are neglected when reliefs under various food security measures are implemented as most of them do not have ration cards. The central government had earlier told the court that ration cards are required under NFSA to provide food grain to over 80 crore people and compartmentalising them under various categories, including disabled, makes it difficult to identify the priority households.

The Centre had also claimed that it is the responsibility of the states and UTs to identify priority households. NFB has contended that under the PWD Act of 1995, a 3 per cent reservation was provided for all disabled persons in poverty alleviation schemes and this was increased to 5 per cent under the RPWD Act of 2016.

Therefore, the government should ensure that at least 5 per cent of the beneficiaries for foodgrain under the schemes like, Antyodaya Anna Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Kalyan Yojana, are persons with disabilities. It has also said that most of the PWDs are in institutions as they are neglected by their families and such institutions do not provide an address proof to their inmates and therefore, they are unable to get ration cards.

The petitioner said that under the NFSA, the Centre has to ensure States and UTs identify the PWDs who are eligible for foodgrains under the various schemes and to provide the same to them. The petition has sought a direction to the Centre to "consider the cases of persons with disabilities and visually impaired persons even without ration cards on the basis of their disability certificates and/ or Unique Disability ID (UDID) for getting benefit under National Food Security Act" and the Pradhan Mantri Garib Anna Kalyan Yojana.

Besides that, it has also sought that foodgrains be provided free of cost to poor persons with disabilities  as was done for migrant labourers and others during the present pandemic.

Next Date of hearing:
After issueing notices to various States and UTs seeking their response, the matter is now listed for further hearings on 13 August 2020.

Download Court Orders : 

W.P.(C) 3976/2020  | National Federation of Blind Vs. Union of India & Anr

07 Jul 2020   - Notice Issued
22 Jul 2020   - Arguments on Counter Affidavits & Court's observations
29 Jul 2020   - Notice to All Stats & UTs
13 Aug 2020 - Next hearing...