B.R. Sarangi, J. -
(1.) The petitioners, by way of this writ petition, seek to quash order dated 31.07.2019 in Annexure-5 disengaging petitioner no.1-Self Help Group (SHG) and blacklisting it for a period of five years by forfeiting the security deposits, on the ground that the same was in gross violation of the principles of natural justice.
(2.) The factual matrix of the case, in hand, is that the opposite party no.1 issued guidelines for the decentralized implementation of Take Home Ration (THR), which is a supplementary nutrition programme of ICDS, vide Annexure-2. As per the said guidelines, the THR is to be given to pregnant and lactating mothers, children from 6 months to 3 years, as they do not attend the AWC (Anganwadi Centre) on a daily basis. The severely malnourished children of 3 to 6 years are to be given THR over and above Hot Cooked Meal. The Government of India has fixed the per beneficiary cost, calorie and protein norm to be maintained across the States. The Government of Odisha has taken an in-principle decision to give Ready to Eat (RTE) i.e wheat-based Chhatua in the form of THR to all eligible beneficiaries as it will ensure that it goes to the intended beneficiary and not entered the family kitty. The guidelines shall be applicable universally throughout the State. While implementing the guidelines, various aspects should be taken into consideration as mentioned therein. For implementation of the procedure, the Government of India supplies wheat at a subsidized rate, hence wheat based Chhatua will be prepared by SHG(s) and the ration entitlement and packaging thereof has also been indicated along with financial guidelines for decentralized procurement for THR. In Clause-5 the quality parameters have been provided. In Clause-6, it has been stipulated that a contract should be signed between the CDPO and the SHG(s) laying down the terms and conditions of preparation and supply. Normally, the contract should be for a period of one year only. Before the end of one year, a review of the SHG(s) performance should be made by the Collector after which a decision can be taken to either renew or rescind the contract. A security deposit of 1% of the total value of production per month should be taken from the SHG(s) and kept with the CDPO and returned on termination of the contract. This should, however, be seized in case of action as mentioned therein against the SHG(s).
2.1 The petitioner no.1 SHG was engaged in preparing Chhatua/Ladoo as per the indent submitted by the CDPO, Balipatana for every month. It was supplying Chhatua/Ladoo for the beneficiaries by entering into agreement as per Annexure-3 for a period of one year from 01.07.2018 to 30.06.2019. The said period of contract was extended up to 31st March, 2020, vide office order dated 25.07.2019 communicated by the Director, ICDS & SW to all the Collectors, and copy thereof was communicated to the petitioner no.1 on 29.07.2019 in Annexure-A/4. Therein, opposite party no.2 was directed to adhere to the guidelines issued by the Government. Performance of petitioner no.1-SHG was assessed by the competent authority on 23.10.2018 and analysis report of chhatua sample indicates that the sample of chhatua was falling under Regulation No. 2.12.1 of FSS (PF & FA) Regulations, 2011 and found satisfactory based on the tests performed. Similarly, the analysis report of food sample held on 27.08.2019 indicates that the sample Chhatua was falling under Regulation No. 2.12.1 of FSS (PF & FA) Regulations, 2011 and found to be satisfactory based on the tests performed. Therefore, basing upon performance of the petitioner, agreement was extended till 31.03.2020. But, on the basis of a test report dated 09.07.2019, it was stated that the sample chhatua falling under Regulations no. 2.12.1 of FSS (FP & FA) Regulations, 2011 and was unsafe under Section 3.1(zz) of FSS Act, 2006 due to infestation as there was fungal growth in Chhatua. Consequentially, the impugned letter was communicated on 31.07.2019 by the CDPO disengaging the petitioner no.1-SHG and blacklisting for a period of five years by forfeiting the security deposit and directing to lodge the FIR as per the guidelines. As such, the indent for the month of August, 2019 issued, vide office letter dated 10.07.2019, was cancelled and direction was issued not to supply any THR material to Anganwadi Centre. But fact remains, on the basis of the analysis report of food sample dated 27.08.2019, the sample Chhatua under Regulations no. 2.12.1 of FSS (FP & FA) Regulations, 2011 was found to be satisfactory based on the tests performed. Therefore, aggrieved by letter dated 31.07.2019 in Annexure-5 disengaging petitioner no.1 from supply of Chhatua and blacklisting it for five years, and issuing notice for forfeiting the security deposit and lodging the FIR with immediate effect pursuant to communication dated 30.07.2019 by the District Social Welfare Officer to the CDPO, Balipatna, this writ application has been filed.
(3.) Ms. S. Mohapatra, learned counsel for the petitioner argued with vehemence contending that since the petitioner no.1's performance was satisfactory, its contract period was extended till 31.03.2020. During subsistence of such contract period, on the basis of the analysis report dated 09.07.2019 action has been taken on 31.07.2019 in Annexure-5 blacklisting petitioner no.1- SHG for a period of five years by forfeiting the security deposit and lodging FIR as per the guidelines. It is contended that the sample, which was received on 07.03.2019 was never received from petitioner no.1-SHG. As such, the analysis report of Chhatua sample submitted on 09.07.2019 alleging fungal growth cannot have any justification in view of Clause-5 of Rule 24.2 of the Rules governing the field. The action taken by opposite party no.5 in Annexure-5 dated 31.07.2019 is in gross violation of principle of natural justice. Therefore, seeks for interference of this Court.;