New Delhi: The Supreme Court today on Monday serious note of non-implementation of Central welfare law National Food Security Act by some states like Gujarat, saying they cannot “disobey” the legislation cleared by Parliament.
The apex court, in particular, was more critical of the reply of Gujarat that the law was “being implemented” and
asked: “Does Gujarat want to breakaway from India? A law is passed by Parliament. Can a state say that it will not follow the law?”
“What is Parliament doing? What is Government of India doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it. Tomorrow somebody can say that it is not going to implement the CrPC, IPC and the Evidence Act,” a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.
The remarks came during the hearing of a PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, run by people like psephologist Yogendra
Yadav, when Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, appearing for the Centre, said so far, nine states and Union Territories, including Gujarat, have not implemented the Act.
The plea has sought implementation of various welfare schemes for families in 12 drought-hit states.
The bench also asked the Centre to collect and collate information from these states on the status of welfare schemes like MGNREGA, National Food Security and mid-day meal. It asked the Centre to file an affidavit by February 10 and posted the matter for further hearing two days thereafter.
The Solicitor General said out of 12 states, the names of which have been provided by the NGO, Bihar, Gujarat and
Haryana have not declared drought.
The apex court had on 18 January asked the Centre to give information about implementation of schemes under MGNREGA, Food Security Act and the mid-day meal schemes as to whether those affected were being provided the minimum required employment and food or not.
The PIL alleged that parts of states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana,
Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh had been hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.
Earlier, the court had also asked the affected states to provide the requisite information on the welfare schemes to the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare which, in turn, would collate the data and file them before it.
The Solicitor General had said that affected states have been provided financial aid from the State Disaster Relief
Fund (SDRF) and the National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF).
Funds to the tune of over Rs 1,500 crore, Rs 1,276 crore, Rs 2,032 crore, Rs 3,044 crores have been made available to Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharshtra respectively, he had said, adding that for 2015-20, a total fund of Rs 61,291 crore has been earmarked to provide relief to the states which may be hit by disasters.
The PIL has sought implementation of the National Food Security Act which guarantees 5 kg of food grain per person
per month. It has also sought a direction to the authorities that affected families be also given pulses and edible oils.
The plea has further said that school-going children be also given milk and eggs under the mid-day meal scheme.
The plea has also sought adequate and timely compensation for crop loss and input subsidy for the next crop to the
farmers affected by drought and subsidised cattle fodder for animals.
The PIL, filed through Prashant Bhushan, alleged that the Centre and states “have been highly negligent in performing their obligations, causing enormous damage to the lives of the people due to their inaction, which is in contravention of the rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India”.
“Unfortunately, most states have not yet implemented this. Except Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, the states have stuck
to the previous Public Distribution System schemes that fall short of the NFSA obligations,” Bhushan had said.
“Research shows that the APL/BPL distinction used by most of the states is useless and that the implementation of NFSA has had positive outcomes for these two states,” he had said.
The petition submitted that drought has led to severe decline in farm employment available to the rural poor.