Human Rights Law Network

Delhi HC recognises injustice against poor pregnant women in Public Distribution Scheme

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New Delhi, Jan 6, 2011: Taking cognizance of the injustice embedded in India's Public Distribution Scheme, the Delhi High Court has asked the the Government of NCT Delhi to organise a "camp" where all aggrieved card holders may have their ration cards sorted and reauthorised within 10 days time.

The bench headed by Justice S Muralidhar further ordered the Asst. Food Commissioner to undertake an "intensive survey" of the Fair Price Shops (FPS) in the region and submit a status report of his findings.

“The Court is of the view that the monitoring of the fair price shops has to be tightened and poor persons ought not to be denied their entitlement to rations on account of non-functioning FPS . . . [the] purpose of this survey is to ensure that the FPSs function in a proper manner and the card holders are not deprived of the rations and other benefits to which they are entitled, " Justice Muralidhar said.

On December 23, 2010, the court passed the interim order in Premlata w/o Ram Sagar & Ors. v.Govt. of NCT Delhi, W.P. Civ. 7687/2010, which involves six destitute pregnant and lactating women who reside in Nangloi area and have been denied their constitutional rights to food and reproductive and child health benefits since August 2009.

The case underlines the inextricable connection between nutritional & food security and maternal health, and the need for increased monitoring and oversight of the government's Fair Price Shops (FPS).

The case holds great promise in ensuring a more transparent and efficient delivery system of essentials to India's poor, and reinforce the life-saving link between food and reproductive health services in ensuring safe motherhood.

Maternal mortality and morbidity is a global human rights concern. The maternal mortality ratio in India is higher than in 127 countries, including the neighboring states of Bangladesh, China, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Through litigation, advocacy, and public education, the Human Rights Law Network's Reproductive Rights Unit uses the legal system to obtain government accountability for reproductive rights violations, including preventable pregnancy-related deaths and disabilities.

For further details about the case, or to learn more about our work, please contact:

Sukti Dhital
Human Rights Law Network
Reproductive Rights Unit
Mob: 9711487238

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