New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for his remarks over the issue of distribution of rotting foodgrain among the poor for free.
Without naming Pawar, a bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Verma today said its earlier statement on distribution of rotting foodgrain to the poor and needy was an ‘order’ and not just an ‘observation’, as suggested by ‘some official’ in the Agriculture Ministry.
The apex court had on August 13 asked the Central government to consider distributing for free foodgrain to the poor instead of allowing it to rot in godowns.
"Give it to the hungry poor instead of it (grains) going down the drain," the bench had told Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran appearing for the Centre.
Pawar had reacted to the SC`s recommendations by saying, "It`s not possible to implement the Supreme Court’s order.”
He had also said that the recommendation of the SC was just a suggestion and not any direction to the Centre.
However, the apex court today made it amply clear that the statement was an “order”, telling the Additional Solicitor General to inform the Agriculture Ministry officials about it.
"It was not a suggestion. It is there in our order. You tell the minister," the court told the government counsel.
The SC, in an order, also directed the Union government to conduct a fresh survey of the BPL/ABPL/AAY beneficiaries on the basis of the figures available for 2010, saying the authorities cannot rely on a decade-old data to extend the benefits.
The bench further said that the government must take urgent steps to prevent further rotting of food grains while maintaining that it must procure only that much quantity which it can preserve.
The bench reiterated its earlier order that persons above poverty line shall not be entitled to subsidized foodgrain but if the government was determined to extend the benefit, the same shall be given to those families whose annual income is below Rs 3 lakhs.
(With PTI inputs)