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Constitutional Judgment: Court Directs States And Union Territories To Re-Open Anganwadi Centres: Dipika Jagatram Sahani Vs Union Of India

Sravika Reddy Kohir ,
  02 July 2022       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :

Citation :
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1039 of 2020

CASE TITLE:
Dipika Jagatram Sahani Vs Union of India & Others

DATE OF JUDGEMENT:
13 January, 2021

PARTIES:
Petitioner – Dipika JagatramSahani
Respondent – Union of India

BENCH:
Justice. Ashok Bhushan
Justice. R. Subhash Reddy
Justice. M.R. Shah

SUBJECT

  • The petitioner filed the Writ Petition in public interest under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution to question the Union, all states and union territories with respect to the closure of the Anganwadi Centres.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

ARTICLE 32 OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:This Article deals with the power conferred to the Supreme Court to issue orders, directions or writs. This also deals with the right to enforcement of rights conferred under the Part III.

ARTICLE 47 OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA: Under this it is the duty of the state to provide for raising the nutrition and standard of living of the public thereby improving their health. The State should also take adequate measures as to prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drugs and drinks.

ISSUES RAISED

  • The lack of access to the Anganwadi centres violates the Article 21, the fundamental right to live with dignity as the basic nutritional support is not being provided.
  • The closure of Anganwadi centres violates the Article 47 wherein the state is obliged to provide for raising the standard of living and also provide nutrition for improving public health.

OVERVIEW

  • With the Lockdown held all over the country all the services unless essential services were shut down. Similarly, the Anganwadi centres were also stopped from being serviceable.
  • The only services being permitted were that distribution of these special benefits by the Anganwadi centres were the take home ration.
  • Though the Government of India has issued orders as to no beneficiary shall be allowed or permitted to attend the Anganwadi centre, with the relaxation of the Lockdown in a phased manner it was issued under the orders, specific activities were permitted to open and start to be operational.
  • But the Anganwadi centres were not being opened in many states and thus the beneficiaries were suffering.
  • The other aspect as to provide hot cooked meals were also being not given to children of age less than 6 years thus leading to mal nutrition.
  • The Petitioner thus filed this petition that the immediate action shall be taken up by the Union, all the States and Union Territories as it is the obligation of the state to provide for proper nutrition and also aid in public health and standard of living.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY PETITIONER

  • The Petitioner contended that though the orders have been issued by the Union of India the services of the Anganwadi centres have not been operational. Thus, the children upto the age of 6 years did not even receive any food or education accordingly with respect to National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • The Petitioner further contended that the Lockdown has tremendously affected the economic conditions of the public and thus there was a dire need for the beneficiaries to get the basic essentials.
  • The Petitioner also claimed that after the impact assessment made by the NHRC it held that it was very much advisable to re-open the Anganwadi centres and provide for proper cooked meals and take-homeration shall be initiated or become operational immediately.
  • The Petitioner held that it is the statutory obligation of the State to provide for proper nutrition and also better standard of living to its people for the improvement of public health. Thus, not providing the same would lead to the violation of Article 21, Right to live with dignity.

ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY RESPONDENT

  • The Respondent counter claims that the Union has issued and communicated guidelines for the re-opening and operation of Anganwadi centres outside the containment zones immediately by taking due measures.
  • The Respondent also claims that there have been status reports demanded from the states as to know the condition of such Anganwadi centres and many of the States have already started and been functional with regard to the same.
  • The Respondent also further contends that the States and Union Territories have been providing the home take ration, the same were being delivered at their door step every 15 days. The Respondent has also brough to the notice that few of the states are in still for approval as regards to the containment zones and also the continuance of pandemic.

JUDGEMENT ANALYSIS

  • The court, after the submissions made by the both parties, disposed of the matter and thereby held that:
  • All the States and UTs shall re-open the Anganwadi Centres and make the operational by 31-01-2021.
  • The States and UTs shall ensure that the nutritional standards for the same are efficient and in conformity with the provisions as per National Food Security Act,2013.
  • All the States and UTs must function efficiently and the Anganwadi centres present in the containment zone area shall be not opened until the containment continues. The same as to which Anganwadi centres shall be closed is to be determined by the State disaster management authority.
  • All the States and UTs shall also monitor and supervise the Anganwadi centres, wherein, making sure that all beneficiaries are benefitted and if it is faulted, they can raise complaint in the dispute redressal mechanism.

CONCLUSION

  • Thus,the court held that children are the next generation and if they are deprived from having nutritious food it will affect the generations to come too. The court also held that it is the statutory obligation of the State to provide for proper nutrition and standard of living. If there isn’t adequate supply of the same it shall also lead to violation of right to live with dignity guaranteed to them. Thus, the court held that unless the Anganwadi centres are in containment zones they shall be operational.

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