Delhi High Court concerned about citizens not being able to access food rations due to Aadhaar glitches

Court asks lawyer representing UIDAI to visit ration shops to understand problems faced by ration card holders

The Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan has filed a case in the Delhi High Court against Aadhaar being made mandatory for receiving ration under the National Food Security Act. The matter was heard today, on May 25, by a bench of the Acting Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar.

The Government of India advocate wanted the petition to be dismissed as similar petitions are pending before the Supreme Court but the judges declined the request saying the powers under Article 226, which deals with powers of the High Courts, are broader.

It was highlighted by Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) that Aadhaar is leading to exclusion in two ways

  1. It has been made mandatory for applying for a ration card- this has led to large scale exclusions as those families which did not have Aadhaar number, have not got ration cards. Also, in many families, at the time when ration cards were being made in Delhi those members who did not have Aadhaar were  not added to the ration cards. As under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 5 kg of foodgrains per person is given, or for all the people listed on the ration card, many families are unable to access their full entitlements of ration.
  2. In 2015, the Delhi government initiated a pilot in 42 ration shops of delivering rations through Aadhaar enabled POS (Point of Sale) device.

Despite evidence of these Point of Sale devices not functioning -- because of recurring problems of network coverage, biometric failures and rejection of even genuine beneficiaries, the government is still insisting on making biometric authentication mandatory for all shops, causing exclusion of and hardship to genuine card holder in this system.

After hearing the problems faced by people, the Court has appointed Mr. Zoheb Hossain (advocate representing the UIDAI) to act as a commissioner of the court and meet with ration card holders who are being excluded from food security due to Aadhaar, and also visit the shops where POS devices were installed.

He was requested to report back to the court on the problems being faced by people who are being denied their ration entitlements due to Aadhaar.

A Report done by the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan (DRRAA) on the implementation of transparency, grievance redress and accountability provisions of the National Food Security Act in Delhi can be accessed at https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3oQ77E3KGKBcmtZSDNKTHo3dkU/view?usp=sharing 

Videos showing problems with POS devices in Delhi can be accessed at- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVSVqbW6dP0&list=PLdHEUXbHHVe30wNaeZqdb04XyJ5j3_ehc

For more details, contact:
Anjali Bhardwaj, Amrita Johri, Koninika Ray & Dipa Sinha 9810273984 (for the Delhi Rozi Roti Adhikar Abhiyan)