Thursday, September 10, 2009

Verification of nationality a must for ration cards

GUWAHATI, Sept 10: The Centre, in a recent directive, has made it clear to the Asom Government that photographs and verification of antecedents of applicants for family identity cards (FI cards)— popularly known as ration cards —is a must, and when an FI card holder is detected as a foreigner by the court, the card should be immediately seized. This directive from the Centre has prompted the State Home Department to ask the Food and Civil Supplies Department to immediately cancel FI cards of people who have been declared Bangladeshis by the court. The Centre has also asked the State Government to make provisions so that the FI cards of people are cancelled automatically as and when they are declared foreigners by the court.

Following the directive from the Centre, a meeting of top-level officials of the Home Department, Food and Civil Supplies and Border Police was held on September 1. It came to light during the meeting that in accordance with the Assam Public Distribution Order, 1982, verification of nationality of a person is not a criterion for issuance of FI card. The order further says that FI card should not be used as a document for evidence, a statement that is blatantly violated in Asom even by the Election Commission that treats FI card as a document for proof while casting votes.

Sources said the Home Commissioner and Secretary took the matter seriously and asked the Department of Food and Civil Supplies to follow the directive of the Centre in toto.
Sources said, according to the Public Distribution System (PDS) Control Order, 2001, no eligible person can be denied FI card under the PDS, but the word “eligibility” has not been defined in the Central Order nor in the Assam Public Distribution Order, 1982. Taking this fact in view, the meeting of the three departments felt the need for a clear definition of the word “eligibility” in the two Orders. On its part, the border police is ready to identify applicants’ antecedents before issuance of FI cards provided the word “eligibility” is clearly defined. THE SENTINEL

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