Lockdown 3.0: Can citizens without ration cards get free ration, Bombay HC asks Maharashtra govt

The HC has also said that the government must not obstruct any citizen willing to distribute ration to such persons, at their own expense.

A bench of Justice Shirish Gupte passed the order while dealing with a plea filed by a Pune-based activist Vanita Chavan. She urged the bench to issue directives to the state government to provide free ration to those, who have no ration card at all in the present lockdown period. She claimed that there had been improper distribution of foodgrain through state-run ration shops.

"The government should make available foodgrain to the needy even without ration cards," Chavan stated, while highlighting the fact that many tribals were wandering about without food in the lockdown.

Further, Chavan told the bench, she would be distributing food and ration to such persons, at her own expense and sought a direction to the authorities not to obstruct her in doing so.

"If Chavan wants to undertake this exercise, there is no need for the government to obstruct the same," Justice Gupte said in his orders.

The court also accepted the statement of the government counsel that there would be no objection to Chavan, however, she would have to restrict her activities within the district of Pune and comply with norms, including social distancing and the use of masks.

"It is common knowledge that for various particular needs, the government has been issuing special permissions to individuals to travel. These permissions are issued by the police administration," Justice Gupte said, while noting the submissions.

"In case Chavan applies to the government through the police machinery to issue a permission to her for undertaking any travel for accomplishing distribution of food proposed by her, subject to conforming with the special norms of public distancing, mask, etc. then the state shall, through its police machinery, issue the requisite permission," Justice Gupte added.

While adjourning the matter to a later date, the bench has also ordered the state to file its response in the matter.

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