Governance

Supreme Court raps Centre over non-implementation of Food Security Act

Till now, the Centre has issued three notifications for the extension of the deadline

 
By Jitendra
Last Updated: Tuesday 08 September 2015
NFSA promises cheap food grains to 67 per cent of the Indian population
Credit: Vikas Choudhary
NFSA promises cheap food grains to 67 per cent of the Indian population
Credit: Vikas Choudhary NFSA promises cheap food grains to 67 per cent of the Indian population Credit: Vikas Choudhary

A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre on Friday over the non-implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA).

The bench comprising Justice Madan Lokur and Justice U U Lalit rapped the central government over the inordinate delay.

Earlier, in May Delhi-based human rights organisation, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, had petitioned the apex court, stating that the non-implementation of NFSA and its undue delay are “illegal” and sought immediate intervention into the matter.

NFSA came into force on July 5, 2013 and was to be fully implemented by July 2014 across India. The Centre has issued three notifications for the extension of the deadline, delaying its implementation till September 2015.

NFSA’s history

In 2001, PUCL had filed a writ petition in the apex court and paved the way for the implementation of NFSA, which promised cheap food grains to 67 per cent of the Indian population. Section 10(1) of the Act strictly states that it must be fully implemented within a year. 

“The delay is (being made) through the government order instead of an amendment (in) the Act in the Parliament to extend (the) deadline,” says Biraj Patnaik, a Delhi-based Right to Food activist.

However, the Centre on it part, cited the states’ lack of preparedness and the inability to identify the number of beneficiaries within the stipulated time limit as reasons for the extension of the deadline thrice.

The first notification was issued on June 30, 2014, giving an extension of three months. The second was issued in October 2014 for another six months and the third extension was issued in March 2015 for another six months.

More about the petition

PUCL’s petition questions the non-implementation of maternity benefit as mentioned in the Act. Under section 4(b) of the Act, a pregnant and lactating woman is entitled to a benefit of Rs 6,000.

The petition also highlights issues related to the lack of infrastructure in schools and anganwadi centres when it comes to kitchens, drinking water and sanitation facilities.

The plea points out the shortcomings in the implementation of the mid-day meal programme and the Integrated Child Development Services, as mentioned in the Act.

Under section 4(a), section 5(1) (a) and section 6 of the Act, free meals are to be provided to children up to the age of six and nutritional support to lactating mothers through anganwadis.

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