The Orissa High Court has warned the the Union and state governments that they must not deny benefits of welfare schemes to the citizens belonging to vulnerable sections only because they do not have an identity proof like Aadhaar Card or a mobile number, reported Live Law.

“The fact is that there are still several poor and vulnerable individuals, in the State of Odisha and in the country, who may not possess either,’ the High Court said.

The observation came after a bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Gourishankar Satapathy came to know that the coverage of the population by the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act is not universal, according to Live Law.

“Today’s discussion threw up expressions like ‘allocation’ and ‘vacancies’ pointing to the fact that there might be sections of our society, and this includes the most vulnerable, who may not be covered under the PDS system,” the High Court said.

It added: “Since the distribution of nutritional supplements and rations happens only through the PDS, there is every likelihood that a child or an expectant mother in a family in need of such supplements and rations may not receive them.”

The bench asked the Centre’s Department of Women and Child Development to ensure that the coverage under the schemes is increased year after year, adding that it can only happen if there are systems put in place that incentivise “inclusion rather than exclusion”, reported Live Law.

The Jajpur Collector the told the court that the absence of an Aadhaar card is not a hinderance in residents being included in the Public Distribution System. Referring to a 2020 order that was reiterated this year, he added that people not having Aadhaar cards are to be provided ration through a bypass system.

The secretary of Odisha’s Department of Women and Child Development then told the court that the same action is being followed everywhere in the state, reported Live Law.