- The Supreme Court of India has given a strict ultimatum to the Central Government to undertake detailed discussions with various state governments and frame a policy on providing community kitchen services within a period of three weeks from the order.
- The Bench highlighted that there is an urgent need to have such a policy as instances have been recorded where people have died of hunger.
- On the pleadings of the Attorney-General of India, the Bench agreed to set a time-limit of three weeks to present a draft policy on the matter before the Court.
- A 3-judge Bench comprising of CJI Ramana, Justice Hima Kohli and Justice AS Bopanna was hearing the petition Anun Dhawan and others versus Union of India and others, which sought the formulation of a community kitchen policy to avoid deaths due to hunger and starvation.
- The Court had passed an order on October 27 directing the Central Government to frame a community kitchen policy for the country, taking into consideration the views of the state governments.
- In response to that order, an affidavit was filed by the Under-Secretary of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Administration, detailing the activities that had been undertaken by the government in the direction.
- The Bench expressed its displeasure on the affidavit stating that it was the Principal-Secretary of the Ministry who was ordered to file the affidavit, and the filing of the same by an inferior authority (under-secretary) was a direct violation of the orders of the Court.
- The Court further expressed its displeasure on the contents of the affidavit, stating that it was only a statement of facts and that it contained nothing which would show any progress towards the formulation of the policy.
- CJI Ramana noted, “Every welfare state's first responsibility is to provide food to people dying due to hunger", and that no constitution, no law would say no to such policy.
- The Attorney-General stated that the Union Government would frame a policy within the structure of the National Food Security Act, which would assure that the policy has a statutory structure and not left at the whims of the policy makers.
- The Bench also noted that the policy has to be made to combat hunger, not just malnutrition.
- On the basis of the pleadings of the AG, the Bench ordered that the Central Government would have to present a policy on the issue within a period of three weeks from the date of the order, after holding consultations with the state governments.
- The Court also ordered that the next affidavit has to be filed by the responsible secretary of the government, and not just any secretary.
- Do you agree with the court’s order?
- What does the National Food Security Act strive to achieve?
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