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Free foodgrains for poor: Pawar gets apex court flak

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 08:39:46 PM, IANS

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday came down heavily on union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for saying that the court's suggestion on free distribution of foodgrains to the poor was not binding on the government.

Referring to media reports attributed to Pawar wherein he said that the court only made a suggestion Aug 12 and the government will consider it, an apex court bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma told Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran: "Tell your minister not to make any such comment."

The court said: "What we have said is an order and not a suggestion. Let him not misunderstand our order."

The court also directed the central government to carry out a fresh survey of the people below poverty line (BPL), above poverty line (APL) and beneficiaries of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

The court passed the order in the wake of several states disputing the figures of the central government related to beneficiaries of subsidised food schemes.

The petitioner, People's Union for Civil Liberties, said that the government admitted in its affidavit that it has sold 60.10 lakh tonnes of foodgrains in the open market since October 2009.

The government should be restrained from selling foodgrains in the open market as a large number of people are suffering from malnutrition and hunger, the petitioner said.

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