Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Right To Nutritious Food Under Article 21: Karnataka High Court Directs State Govt To Forthwith Implement ICDS Scheme

Mustafa Plumber
30 May 2022 8:45 AM GMT
Right To Nutritious Food Under Article 21: Karnataka High Court Directs State Govt To Forthwith Implement ICDS Scheme
x

The Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to forthwith take necessary steps to implement the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS Scheme) in the state. Otherwise, the Court observed that the fundamental right to nutritious food of 50 lakhs beneficiaries in Karnataka, particularly of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children, stand violated. A...

The Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to forthwith take necessary steps to implement the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS Scheme) in the state. Otherwise, the Court observed that the fundamental right to nutritious food of 50 lakhs beneficiaries in Karnataka, particularly of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children, stand violated.

A division bench of Chief Justice Ritu Raj Awasthi and Justice S R Krishna Kumar quashed two orders passed by the state government dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021, by which the government had withdrawn the circular dated 02.07.2020, and notification dated May 5, 2021 in regards to supply of good quality of food items to the beneficiaries under the ICDS scheme by maintaining the prescribed nutritional standards.

The withdrawn circular and notification had mandated that Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production Training Centres, which were tasked to supply prepare and supply nutritious food to AWCs, will have to secure the assistance of women's self-help groups that are certified or licenced by the Bureau of Indian Standards, for maintaining quality of nutritious food.

The bench said,

"The impugned Government orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 passed by the respondents – State are hereby quashed. The respondents – State are directed to forthwith implement and give effect to the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021, issued and passed by the State Government immediately without any further delay."

Further it directed, 

"The State Government is also directed to take necessary steps to forthwith implement and give effect to the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS Scheme) immediately without any further delay, bearing in mind the Central Government Norms dated 24.02.2009 and Rules dated 06.10.2017 and in the light of the report of the technical committee dated 19.08.2021 as well as all other applicable Government Rules, Regulations, Norms, Orders, Circulars etc., in this regard."

It also directed that, "The supply of food products, without following specifications and standards as per Revised Nutrition and Feeding Norms shall be suspended with immediate effect and supply of quality nutrition as per Government order dated 05.05.2021 and circular dated 02.07.2020 shall be ensured by the respondents, by executing the agreements as specified in the Government order dated 05.05.2021."

It added, "In order to ensure uninterrupted quality supply of the menu of food items, the respondents are directed that, if the parties of the contract (Agreements) as per Government order 05.05.2021 fail to perform their obligation, the final products as specified in the contract (Agreements) shall be procured at a competitive rate from any eligible entities as specified vide circular dated 02.07.2020 and supply the same to Anganawadi Centres in the interest of the beneficiaries."

Petitioners arguments:

It was submitted that the impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 are illegal, arbitrary and violative of principles of natural justice apart from being contrary to the objectives of the ICDS scheme and the norms, rules etc., framed thereunder as well as the other material on record and if the impugned orders are not quashed, the same would result in great prejudice and hardship to the beneficiaries of the ICDS scheme and as such, the impugned orders which are without jurisdiction or authority of law deserve to be quashed.

The State government justified its action and sought dismissal of petitions on the ground that there was no merit in the petitions.

Court findings:

The bench noted that 50 lakh children, pregnant and lactating women are beneficiaries of the ICDS scheme. Under the Supreme Court order, the Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production Training Centers (for short 'MSPTCs') have been established.

Then on going through the records it said, "The impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021, whereby the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021 respectively are sought to be withdrawn are illegal, arbitrary and vitiated and the same deserve to be quashed."

It observed, "A perusal of the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021 as well as the technical committee report dated 19.08.2021, the feasibility for the MSPTCs to tie up with BIS licenced / certified women self help groups such as the petitioners has been recognised, acknowledged and recommended by the State Government bearing in mind the objectives of the scheme, Apex Court directions and the relevant norms / rules. It is therefore clear that the impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 purporting to withdraw the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021 are illegal, arbitrary and deserve to be quashed."

Further it said,

"A perusal of the impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 clearly indicates that the same are completely unreasoned, non-speaking, cryptic, laconic and arbitrary orders which have been passed unconditionally and unilaterally without assigning any reasons and without any application of mind, thereby being violative and contrary to the principles of natural justice and on this ground also, the impugned orders deserve to be quashed."

Upholding the validity of the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021, the bench said, "It indicates that the same were issued in conformity and pursuant to the National Food Security Act r/w SNP Rules, 2017 as well as the directions issued by the Apex Court regarding implementation of the ICDS scheme which is meant for pregnant women, children, lactating mothers etc., and consequently, withdrawal of the said circular and Government order by passing the impugned orders will substantially delay the implementation of the ICDS scheme in the State of Karnataka and as such, the impugned order deserves to be quashed."

Further it said the withdrawal order issued will cause great prejudice and hardship to the beneficiaries of the ICDS scheme. It said, "The respondents have completely failed to substantiate that the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021 were contrary to the directions issued by the Supreme Court."

Moreover, the court said,

"Having regard to the peculiar and special facts and circumstances of the instant case including the aims and objects of the ICDS scheme, directions issued by the Apex Court and other proceedings, orders etc., prior to issuance of the same, respondents were not entitled to unilaterally and unconditionally issue the impugned orders under Section 21, which does not confer unfettered or unbridled powers on the State Government to withdraw its earlier order dated 05.05.2021, that too within a period of fifteen days and as such."

The court also observed, "The already miserable situation and condition of the beneficiaries of the ICDS scheme had substantially and considerably deteriorated and worsened on account of the Covid-19 pandemic and on this charge also, the respondents were not justified in passing the impugned orders."

The bench also said, "The impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021, the circular dated 02.07.2020 and order dated 05.05.2021 are sought to be withdrawn, thereby denying more than 50 lakhs beneficiaries in Karnataka, the right to nutritious food, particularly to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children whose fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India stands violated." It added the impugned orders were arbitrary and capricious under Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Case Title: Sangeeta Gadagin v. State Of Karnataka, & C/W Matters.

Case No: WP 3522/2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 175

Date of Order: May 27, 2022

Appearance: Senior Advocate Lakshmi Iyengar, A S Ponnanna and Advocate Rohan Veeranna Tigadi for petitioners

Advocate G V Shashi Kumar for R1 to R3.

Click Here To Read/Download Order




Next Story