The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to all states and sought their response on the issue whether they have grievance redressal mechanism in place to ensure food to everyone under the National Food Security Act.
The bench comprising Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant directed the states to respond in 4 weeks.
The bench passed the order while hearing a PIL highlighting the starvation death cases across the country.
It was alleged in the plea that people died of starvation after they were denied rations under the government social welfare scheme due to absence of Aadhaar card.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing petitioner Koli Devi, submitted that many tribals either don't have Aadhar card or they don't know how to link with the Aadhar.
To this submission, CJI said "I was part of the bench (which had decided the Aadhar case). It was very much clear that people can't be denied benefit of any social welfare scheme on the ground of Aadhaar".
Referring to the mandatory requirement of grievance redressal mechanism under the National Food Security Act, Justice Bobde said "We want to appoint a high powered committee to monitor the issue."
CJI also asked the counsel to suggest names for appointment.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, informed the court that reports suggest that these death cases, (stated in the petition) are not due to starvation. No one was denied food on the ground of Aadhaar. Even the Government has issued circular to all states to ensure food for all.
The petition was filed by Koili Devi and Gudiya Devi, mother and sister of Santoshi, an 11-year-old girl from Simdega, Karimati in Jharkhand who died of starvation on September 28, 2017.
The petition alleged that Santoshi's death occurred after the cancellation of her family's ration card since it was not linked with their Aadhaar card.
According to the petition, the stopped getting rations from March 2017. On the day of Santoshi's death, her mother gave her some tea and salt.