Tuesday, November 2, 2010

No confrontation intended on foodgrain for poor, Centre to SC

The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it had no intention of having “any confrontation” with it on the issue of distribution of food grain to the country’s poor.
Additional solicitor-general Mr Mohan Parasaran submitted to a Bench comprising Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Mr Justice Deepak Verma that reports appearing in a section of the Press were wrongly implying that the Centre wanted to take on the Supreme Court on the matter. Mr Parasaran also placed on record an affidavit highlighting the various measures taken by the government to distribute food grains at affordable prices to the needy population.
The SC, while taking on record the affidavit, said it was “very happy” at the comprehensive reply filed by the government in pursuance of its earlier direction for supply of food grains at “low cost” or “at no cost”. However, the government affidavit is silent on the SC’s direction for free distribution of food grains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot.
The ASG told the SC that pursuant to its earlier direction, the Centre had decided to allocate 25 lakh additional tonnes of food grain to the states and Union Territories for distribution at BPL prices.
The court’s directive earlier generated a controversy after Union agriculture minister Mr Sharad Pawar insisted that the government was not bound to supply free food grain to the people as the court had only made a suggestion and it was not a directive. The SC, however, clarified on 31 August that what it had issued was an order and not a mere suggestion.
During today’s hearing, the Bench urged the media to report the issue accurately, pointing out that SC orders were regularly posted on the relevant website.

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