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'Successful & Efficient Functioning Of Anganwadis Has Direct Nexus To Discharge Of Constitutional Obligations': Karnataka High Court Issues Interim Measures

Mustafa Plumber
5 July 2021 12:42 PM GMT
Successful & Efficient Functioning Of Anganwadis Has Direct Nexus To Discharge Of Constitutional Obligations: Karnataka High Court Issues Interim Measures
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The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the State Government to provide electricity supply and fans to all Anganwadi centers in need of them across the State and construct toilets in centers which are operating within government buildings. The direction has to be complied with by end of this year. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said, "We...

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The Karnataka High Court on Monday directed the State Government to provide electricity supply and fans to all Anganwadi centers in need of them across the State and construct toilets in centers which are operating within government buildings. The direction has to be complied with by end of this year.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj said, "We direct the State government to ensure that all 14,948 angwadi centers in the state without electricity are provided with electricity supply by December 31, 2021. We direct the state government to ensure that 18,984 centers which are not provided even with fans shall be provided fans by Dec 31, 2021. In the case of 3524 centers which are in government buildings, we direct that construction of toilets shall commence and be completed by the end of Dec 31, 2021. For constructing toilets in the rest of the centers we grant time to the state till June 30, 2022."

The court issued the interim direction while hearing a suo-motu petition initiated in the year 2011, mainly dealing with the issue of implementation of Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) scheme in the state. The court said "The Statute recognises that anagwandi is a child care and development center set up under the ICDS scheme of the Central government. The services as provided under section 4, section 5 (1) and section 6 of the Food Security Act of 2013, are required to be rendered by angwandi's. Hence as per the provisions of Food security Act and ICDS scheme, anganwadi must be equipped to provide following services."

Then the court noted the services which are provided by the anganwadi centers and observed,

"Thus not only that implementation of ICDS scheme of the Central government is through anganwadi but now anganwadi have been assigned a very important role under Food Security Act. Denial of benefits under section 4, 5 and 6 of the Food Security Act may amount to violation of Fundamental Rights under Article 21 of the women and children who are entitled to the benefit under the said sections."

It added "Thus it follows It is not only legal but Constitutional obligation of state to set up requisite no of anganwadi and provide infrastructure to them."

The state government in its affidavit stated that out of total 65,911 anganwadi centers, 14,948 centers are without electricity supply. Moreover, in cases of 18,974 centers even elementary provision of fans is not made available. It also stated that 13,690 centers do not have toilets. Out of which 3,524 centers are being run in government buildings, where adequate space is available.

To this the court said "In the affidavit it is stated that in one year electricity supply will be provided to only 6,700 centers and fans will be provided to nearly 8,300 centers and that also within a period of one year."

Further it said "To say the least the general condition of anganwadis in the state appears to be far from being satisfactory."

It added "Successful and efficient functioning of anganwadi has direct nexus to the discharge of obligations of the state under provision of Food security act as well as Constitutional obligations. There is no concrete assurance given in the said affidavit about outer limit within which 14948 centers will be provided with electricity, similarly no outer limit stated when 18,974 centers will be provided with fans. It is stated that out of 13, 690, a total of 3,524 centers are running out of government buildings where space is available for construction of toilets. However, in para 11 stated construction of only 1700 toilets will be undertaken after obtaining permission from the finance department."

The court opined "It is not at all necessary for recording detailed findings to come to the conclusion that unless all centers are provided with fans, electricity and toilets, the anganwadi cannot function effectively." Following which the court issued the interim directions.

Posting the matter for further hearing on August 4, the court also directed the state to inform about when the anganwadi centers will be opened, as they have been kept closed due to Covid-19.


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