New Delhi: The Border Security Force (BSF) on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that the allegation of one of its jawans on social media that poor quality food was being served to its troopers posted along the LoC was "false" as no complaint was ever made in this regard.
"Concerned jawan (Tej Bahadur Yadav) or any other jawan of the said battalion never approached the grievance redressal system for the redressal of their grievance regarding poor quality of food," an affidavit filed by the Deputy Inspector General (Personnel), Border Security Force (BSF), has said.
It said that soon after the video went viral on social media, senior officials visited the concerned battalion, but no complaint regarding poor food was brought to their notice.
Brushing aside allegations levelled by Yadav in his video, the BSF in its affidavit, filed through advocate Gaurang Kanth, said a "very transparent system" was in place to ensure quality diet for the troopers since their health and safety was a "prime responsibility".
It also said "a detailed Staff Court of Inquiry (SCOI) has also been ordered to enquire into the allegations made by the jawan through video and same has been concluded and further action will be taken in accordance with the law".
The BSF response came in the backdrop of a public interest litigation seeking direction to MHA to submit a status report with respect quality of food supplied to all paramilitary forces in India.
The petition was filed by Puran Chand Arya, a former central government employee, in the wake of the video posted on Facebook by Yadav alleging corruption among officers and poor working conditions.
The BSF, however, has brushed aside the petitioner's claim of corruption saying there are committees to deal with purchase of food items and even inspect it after it is cooked.
"These committees are changed on a monthly basis to avoid any malpractice in purchasing procedure," the reply stated.
On January 9, Yadav posted a video on Facebook which showed a meal box comprising a watery soup-like dal which he said had only turmeric and salt and a burnt chapati.
He said this was what jawans were served at meal time on duty and claimed that they often went to bed on empty stomach.
Citing fundamental rights to equality (Article 14) and life (Article 21), the PIL filed through advocate Abhishek Kumar Choudhary highlights the allegations about insufficient and bad quality of food provided to jawans.
It sought action on the incident so that the morale of the force is not affected, besides demanding clarity on ration procurement, food preparation and servings to various categories of officers.
The BSF, however, in its 10-page affidavit said it was "making all efforts to ensure a transparent and effective measure for the procurement as well as distribution of healthy diet to all its personnel".
It said food was cooked and distributed in BSF messes under the supervision of mess commander who is selected by troops from among the dining members through a monthly mess meeting held on the 25th of each month under the supervision of the Company Commander.
"Random checking of cooked food is carried out by duty subordinate officer and duty supervisory officer and record maintained in food Checking Register.
"In all BSF establishments, there is a system for recording the complaints/grievances of its personnel to be considered and the decision is conveyed to him on priority and maximum within 60 days," the affidavit stated.
The force also informed the bench headed by Chief Justice G Rohini, which will take up the matter on February 27, that Yadav or any other trooper of the battalion never approached the grievance redressal system.