Roller Flour Mills Association & Ors Vs. Govt. of India & Ors  Insc 1012 (5 October 2007)
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam
PETITION (C) NO. 274 OF 2005 Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
this petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950 (in short the
'Constitution') the petitioners have highlighted that that there has been
alarming increase in diversion of food stocks meant to be supplied under the
Public Distribution System (in short 'PDS'). It is stated that highly subsidized
wheat stocks supplied by the Central Government for distribution through PDS
under several schemes are being diverted to rolling flour mills of different
States. These stocks have been procured by the Central Government from Food
Corporation of India (in short 'FCI'). Special reference
has been made to the State of West Bengal
and North-East States.
alleged that instead of supplying them to the needy consumers and the intended
beneficiaries they are being diverted to the open market. Several statistical
data have been furnished. The States of Assam and West Bengal have filed counter affidavits and
have denied the allegations and have submitted that all possible measures have
been adopted to ensure that the foodgrains reach the intended beneficiaries.
Learned counsel for the petitioners have referred to some newspaper reports
indicating that foodgrains worth more than rupees thirty one thousand crores
have been siphoned off from public distribution system.
These allegations have been refuted by the learned counsel for the different
States. It is to be noted that the Government of India, Ministry of Food and
Consumer Affairs, Department of Food and Civil Supplies, by letter dated 13th
December, 1997 brought to the notice of the Food Secretaries of all State
Governments and Union Territories Administration that the scheme of custom
milling was extended for a period of one year upto 31.10.1997 on the express
conditions stipulated by letter dated 4th November, 1996. It was stated that
the scheme was further reviewed and it was decided not to extend it further.
The scheme of custom milling of PDS wheat stood withdrawn/discontinued.
Government of Assam, it is urged by learned counsel for the State, took follow
up action on the basis of the aforesaid letter. A writ petition was filed
before the Gauhati High Court questioning the action taken by the Assam
Government in terms of aforesaid letter of the Government of India. The
impugned annexures were quashed by a learned Single Judge. The matter was
carried in writ appeals before the Division Bench which set aside the orders of
the learned Single Judge. However, direction was given to work out the
modalities to ensure that the beneficiaries are not affected.
appears that the Government of Assam found that the beneficiaries were not
interested in taking the whole grain and instead wanted Atta. This aspect was
also examined by the Central Government. It was noted that the workers in the
tea gardens had shown reluctance to take whole grain and instead preferred Atta.
The Government of India also took note of the request of the Assam Government
for continuation of milling Above Poverty Line (in short 'APL') into wholemill Atta
for distribution through PDS. It was suggested by learned counsel for the
Government of Assam that the distribution can be made through Gram Panchayats
who in turn can get the wheat converted into Atta for supply to the
Learned counsel for the petitioners on the other hand submitted that it would
not be desirable to adopt such a course as there is possibility of
manipulations and lack of accountability. It is undisputed that the
distribution under the PDS is done through the Fair Price Shops (in short
Considering the intention behind the programme, we direct following modalities
to be adopted:
The concerned Associations/Gram Panchayats/Local bodies shall assess the need
of wheat for the intended beneficiaries. The need shall be indicated to the
They shall indicate the quantum of wheat which is to be converted into Atta to
be given to the beneficiaries on the basis of their option. In other words,
those beneficiaries who want to take wheat shall indicate to them and those who
want to take Atta shall similarly indicate their option. On the basis of such
intimation as noted above, Associations/Gram Panchayats/Local bodies shall
convey the requirement to the State Government.
The quantity indicated for conversion into Atta shall be given to the Mills,
who after converting wheat into Atta, shall supply it to the FPS so that the
intended beneficiaries can get them from the FPS at rates fixed by the
The State Governments shall ensure that the actual requirement is being
projected by the Associations/Gram Panchayats/Local bodies and similarly
whether after milling the supply is made to the FPS to be supplied finally to
The State Governments shall quarterly submit the necessary data for the
information of the Central Government who shall also ensure that all possible
steps are being taken by the State Governments to fulfil the intended
writ petition is accordingly disposed of.