Hyderabad: The Supreme Court on Wednesday expressed its concerns about the massive ration card cancellation by the Telangana government which saw over 19 lakh ration cards being declared as “bogus”. The Court said that getting basic nutrition through the public distribution system (PDS) is a statutory right.
The Court took issue with the fact that none of the beneficiaries of the “bogus” cards were given prior notice before the cancellation. To this, the Telangana counsel said that the cards can be applied for, again. Justice L Nageswara Rao, who was hearing the case lashed out, saying “First you cancel the cards and now you say apply again. We don’t appreciate the state’s stand”. Justice BR Gavai likened the situation to conducting a court trial after a person has been convicted.
The Telangana counsel said a “system check” was done before identifying the bogus cards and cancelling them. “A system check is like a computer deciding whose ration card is bogus or not. There is no human intervention. Why was an opportunity not given to these people or notice issued before cancellation of their cards?” asked Justice Gavai.
Justice Rao said there were 17 parameters under which the ration card could be cancelled. “Have you even bothered to reach out to the card holders and informed them under which parameter their card was cancelled?” the judge asked the State counsel.
The Supreme Court directed the Telangana chief secretary to explain the steps taken before cancellation of the 19 lakh ration cards. The bench also ordered the state to conduct a field verification of the cancelled card holders and expeditiously give them an opportunity to make representations of their grievances.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate Colin Gonsalves said cancellation of cards without prior notice amounted to an “act of extreme cruelty”.