Written by Shaurya Mahajan
While setting aside the Delhi government’s scheme for doorstep delivery of ration, the Delhi High Court has observed that the decision of the Council of Ministers headed by Delhi Chief Minister to roll out the said scheme cannot be described as an Executive action taken by, or in the name of the Lieutenant Governor.
The Court reasoned that the same cannot be done since the LG had expressed his disagreement, which stood unresolved as the scheme was placed before the President.
A division bench comprising of Acting Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh thus quashed the three tenders issued by the Delhi Government in respect of the doorstep ration delivery scheme.
However, the Court said that the Delhi Government is entitled to frame a scheme for doorstep delivery of foodgrains or rations to the beneficiaries under the Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS), from its own resources in compliance with the prevailing laws.
The Court also added “To us, it appears, that the misunderstanding was not on the part of the Lieutenant Governor, but on the part of the Chief Minister himself.”
Whether the impugned Scheme capable of being put into execution or implementation when objected to by the Lieutenant Governor?
The Court was of the view that the conduct of the Lieutenant Governor satisfied the standards of Constitutional trust and morality, and the principle of collaborative federalism, and Constitutional balance so eloquently explained by the Supreme Court in State (NCT of Delhi) case.
The Court noted that on 10.03.2018, the Lieutenant Governor was communicated the Cabinet decision which was to implement the proposal for home delivery of ration and that the Council of Ministers approved the proposal to implement the scheme under the TPDS in the city.
It also noted that the LG had expressed his view stating that the proposed system of home delivery of ration will only replace one set of human intervention with another i.e. the service providers and their agents.
Hence, diversion of ration materials and corruption may not be eliminated under the proposed scheme. The Bench also noted that the Lieutenant Governor also expressed his concern stating that the proposed change was a big change in a critical sector that directly impacts the weakest section of the society, and that called for the carrying out of all due diligence.
He also noticed the view of the Department of Law of the Delhi Government that the Scheme would require prior approval of the Central Government, under Section 12(2)(h) of the Act.