Delhi High Court has issued notice in a plea moved by the National Federation of Blind seeking inclusion of Persons with Disabilities as beneficiaries under Antyodaya Anna Yojana and the Food Security Act.
The Division Bench comprising of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notices to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, and the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.
The order was passed in a PIL which seeks a direction to the Central Government to consider theextension of benefits under the National Food Security Act for Persons with Disabilities and visually impaired persons even without ration cards, on the basis of their disability certificate or Aadhar card.
As of today, the Food Security Act mandates the possession of a ration card to avail benefits under the same. This ends up excluding the persons with disabilities from availing benefits as most of these persons do not have a ration card.
The petitioner submitted,
‘Persons of Disabilities are victims of institutionalised discrimination, they’re usually kicked out of their households. That’s why it becomes impossible for them to get hold of a ration card.’
The Petitioner further argued that Section 37(b) of Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act 2016, makes it mandatory for the government to provide 5% reservation to PwD in all poverty alleviation programmes.
Therefore, the case of the Petitioner is that since both the AAY Scheme and Food Security Act are ‘poverty alleviation programmes’, persons with disabilities and visually impaired persons shall be eligible persons for the purpose of implementation of the food security scheme as given under Section 10(1) of the National Food Security Act 2013.
Highlighting that so far no State has carried out the task of identifying priority households as mandated under the Food Security Act, the petitioner argued,
‘…when the National Food Security Act was enacted in 2013, the respondent No.1 was obliged to simultaneously notify 5% reservation of benefit under food security guarantee scheme and programme in favour of persons with disabilities and also declare the persons with disabilities as eligible persons and priority households but the same was not done.’
The petitioner thus wants the Centre to issue directions to all the States and UTs to provide food grains free of cost to poor persons with disabilities as was done for migrant labourers and others during the pandemic.
The matter will next be heard on July 22.