The state of women in the country is improving. All the efforts are made to provide them with the capabilities they need to have power and authority over their own lives. The Government’s policy is to promote their independence to become self-sufficient and cultivate the ability to make informed decisions in all areas of their lives. The High Court Of Bombay upheld this through a single learned bench BHARATI H. DANGRE, J in STAWAN MAHILA BACHAT GAT AND OTHERS V. THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS (Writ Petition No.12344 Of 2017).
Facts of the case – The Mahila Bachat Gats are the four petitioners granted respondent No.3 to operate separate fair-price stores in Taluka Shrirampur, Dist.Ahmednagar. On May 14, 2013, the District Supply Officer, Ahmednagar, issued a notice to the petitioners under the Maharashtra Scheduled Commodities (Regulation of Distribution) Regulation, 1975. The statements were issued in response to a report filed by the Tahsildar of Shrirampur alleging a Tata Model Vehicle No.MH-02-2015 was discovered stranded near one Sudhakar Dagadu Adagale. This vehicle was loaded with 42 gunny bags of rice bearing the Indian Food Corporation (IFC) stamp the food grain had been stocked unauthorizedly. Mr.Aslam Shaikh, the vehicle’s driver, and its owner, Mr.Sudhakar Adagale, were charged with a crime. Ambadas Parkhe, alleged to be the petitioners’ Bachat Gats’ Salesman, was arraigned as an accused and arrested in this case. In this context, the petitioners were notified that they had breached the Maharashtra Scheduled Commodities (Regulation of Distribution) Regulation, 1975. They were requested to show cause why their fair price store license should not be revoked. Identical notifications were sent to each of the four applicants.
Since the order aggrieved them, the petitioners filed a revision application with the Deputy Commissioner (Supply) Nasik Division, which was partially granted. The suspension order was set aside with a direction to respondent No.3, proceed against the petitioners according to the rules, based on the report of Tahsildar, Shrirampur, if they were found guilty.
The petitioners filed revision petitions with Deputy Commissioner (Supply) Nasik, later dismissed. The petitioners were forced to approach respondent No. 1, the Hon’ble Minister of Food Supply Department, who dismissed the revision application by upholding the impugned decision.
The Learned Judge following the hearing of the learned Advocate for the petitioners and the learned AGP, and a review of the petition’s paper book, it appears that the Supply Inspector, Shrirampur, lodged the FIR with Shrirampur Police Station, which was one of the reasons for initiating the action against the Bachat Gats. Another factor that may be established from the record is the shortcomings detected during the inspection of the petitioners’ fair pricing stores, where fewer food grains were observed. The third reason that has come to light is the allegation that food grains were not distributed to the recipients in December 2012, despite being assigned to the corresponding fair pricing stores.
When the relevant documents are produced in the wake of the allegations mentioned above, it can be seen that one Aslam Shaikh and Sudhakar Adagale were arraigned as accused in the first First Information Report lodged in respect of a large quantity of rice being transported in the Tata Tempo for black marketing.
The accusation that the petitioners appointed Shri Ajay Parkhe as a Salesman lacks support; on the other hand, the Tahsildar of Shrirampur indicated in his evidence that Shri Ajay Parkhe was a Salesman of four fair pricing stores, and his affidavit also included a copy of the Bachat Gats resolution.
The petitioners’ learned Advocate has relied on the Government Resolutions dated 12/11/1999, which is in the form of an order managing the fair price shops, including their allotment and the action to be taken if the appropriate price shop owners violate the terms and conditions. The significant offenses laid forth by the resolution include the selling of food grains and other vital commodities at a higher price established by the Government, misappropriation of food grains, and the sale of food grains in places other than the fair price store.
In light of the preceding factual situation, it cannot be said that the petitioners’ fair price shops demand a severe action of cancellation of their permit/authorization. Since the Mahila Bachat Gats’ appropriate price shops authorization was granted with the goal of uplifting women in the village/society.
The Learned Judge is unable to remain silent about the attitude of the State Authorities, from the Tahsildar to the highest levels of the State Government. It is necessary to note the current status of women in this country, where every effort is made on all fronts to equip them with the tools they need to have power and control over their own lives, and where the Government’s policy is to encourage their empowerment, so that they become independent and develop the ability to make strategic choices in all areas of their lives, and would lead this country forward in achieving gender equality through their continued presence. The rule is rendered absolute in the above words due to the above. However, it is required to give a directive to respondent No. 3 to promptly reinstate the authorization in favor of the petitioners within 8 (eight) weeks of receiving the order.
Reviewed by Rangasree.