The Chief Justice told the Centre that ‘people are dying of hunger and malnutrition is a separate issue, and do not mix them’
The Supreme Court. Credit: PTI Photo
The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Centre to develop a scheme, after consulting with various state governments for setting up community kitchens across the country to address hunger and malnutrition.
The top court said the first responsibility for any welfare state is to not allow people to die of hunger.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices A S Bopanna and Hima Kohli also slammed the Centre saying it appeared from its affidavit and submissions that the Centre was still in the process of gathering suggestions in the matter.
“It looks like the government is not in a mood to implement the scheme,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a plea filed by social activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh, seeking subsidised canteens in all States and UTs to ensure food security in the wake of the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.
During the hearing, the bench told Attorney General K K Venugopal, “See if you want to take care of hunger, no constitution, law or court will say no. Our suggestion again is already we’re delaying, so further adjournment won’t help. We’ll give you the final time of two weeks, please hold that meeting with state governments to develop a scheme.”
The court also told the Centre that people are dying of hunger and malnutrition is a separate issue, so it should not be mixed up. The court further said it is not bothered about the international malnutrition index, but its only aim is to curb the hunger issues in the country.
The court said it will grant three weeks’ time to the central government to come up with some scheme which can be agreeable by various state governments also.
The bench noted that if state governments had any objection, it will be taken up in the next hearing. “We direct all states to cooperate with the Government of India in coming up with a scheme,” the bench said.
The court also directed the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and Odisha to file their responses in the matter.
On October 27, the court had said the Union government should come out with some policy decision with
regard to implementation of the community kitchen scheme by taking into consideration other similar schemes relating to the community kitchen, already in operation in different States.
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