The Supreme Court on Friday asked the West Bengal government to immediately implement the ‘one nation one ration card’ scheme. A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M.R, Shah said no excuse will be considered and the state must implement the scheme, as the state government counsel submitted that there are Aadhaar seeding issues.

The bench said: “You cannot cite one or the other problem. This is for migrant workers.” Hearing the suo moto case, the top court addressed the problems and miseries of migrant workers amid the Covid pandemic. Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that there were nearly 2.8 crore migrants without ration cards, and they are under serious difficulty as they would not be covered under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana.

The Bench noted that the scheme has been extended till November, but Dave said the scheme will benefit only those who have ration cards. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta pointed out that 80 crore have been identified under the Garib Kalyan scheme. As the Bench queried what scheme will cover the people who don’t have ration cards, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati replied that the latitude has been left to the states and it is for the states to have schemes for those who do not have ration cards.

The Bench noted that the Centre is ready to distribute food grains, and it has to see what mechanism can be adopted. The Bench said that there are states that don’t have such schemes, and can the Garib Kalyan scheme be temporarily extended to also those who don’t have the ration cards. To this, Mehta said that the Centre’s officials can have talks with the secretaries concerned in the states and revert after a week.

“Nobody is leaving them to die. There are schemes to help them,” he said. During the hearing, counsel for the Maharashtra and Punjab governments informed the court they follow the one nation one ration card scheme. At this stage, the Bengal government counsel submitted the state has not implemented the scheme yet and the Bench said that it has to implement it when the others have.