#SwarajAbhiyan-Part II - SC issues Directions on Implementation of National Food Security Act, 2013 [Read the Directions]
We are quite surprised that with regard to the implementation of the NFS Act, even though the statute was passed by Parliament and it extends to the whole of India and is deemed to have come into force on 5 th July 2013, some States have not implemented it, said the Bench.
The Supreme Court of India Today has issued Directions relating to the implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013 on Part-II of the Swaraj Abhiyan Judgment.
Before the Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and NV Ramana the Petitioner Swaraj Abhiyan submitted the following suggestions
(i) All households should be provided with 5 kg food grains per person per month irrespective of whether or not they fall in the category of priority households as defined in Section 2(14) of the NFS Act read with Section 10 thereof. The provision for food grains should be in addition to and not in derogation of any other entitlement in any other government scheme.
(ii) Households that do not have a ration card or family members left out of existing ration cards should be issued special and temporary coupons on production of an appropriate identity card or any other proof of residence.
(iii) Each household affected by the drought should be provided 2 kg of dal (lentil) per month at Rs. 30 per kg and one litre of edible oil per month at Rs. 25 per litre through the Public Distribution System. In this regard, reference was made to a similar scheme which is said to be working quite well in Tamil Nadu.
(iv) Children affected by the drought should be provided one egg or 200 gms of milk per day (6 days a week) under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. In addition to this, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme should continue during the summer vacation period in schools so that children are not deprived of their meals, including eggs or milk, as the case may be.
The Bench held as follows;
“We are quite surprised that with regard to the implementation of the NFS Act, even though the statute was passed by Parliament and it extends to the whole of India and is deemed to have come into force on 5 th July 2013, some States have not implemented it. As per the chart provided to us by learned counsel for the petitioner in the Note, the State of Uttar Pradesh has partially implemented the NFS Act in the sense that it has been implemented only in 28 of its 75 districts. Gujarat has admittedly implemented the NFS Act only from 1st April 2016. 12. It is surprising that the implementation of a law enacted by Parliament such as the NFS Act is left to the whims and fancies of the State Governments, and it has taken more than two years after the NFS Act came into force for Gujarat to implement it and Uttar Pradesh has only implemented it partially. This is rather strange. A State Government, by delaying implementation of a law passed by the Parliament and assented to by the President of India, is effectively refusing to implement it and Parliament is left a mute spectator. Does our Constitution countenance such a situation? Is this what ‘federalism’ is all about? Deliberate inaction in the implementation of a parliamentary statute by a State Government can only lead to utter chaos or worse. One can hardly imagine what the consequence would be if a State Government, on a similar logic, decides that it will not implement other parliamentary”
After considering various submissions the Bench has issued the following directions
- Each of the States before us shall establish an internal grievance mechanism and appoint or designate for each district a District Grievance Redressal Officer as postulated by Section 14 and Section 15 respectively of the NFS Act within one month from today, unless these provisions have already been complied with. The said Officer would also be entitled to address grievances relating to non-supply of food grains due to the absence of a ration card.
- Each of the States before us shall constitute a State Food Commission for the purpose of monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the NFS Act as postulated by Section 16 thereof within two months from today, unless a State Food Commission has already been constituted. 3. In the States in which drought has been declared or might be declared in the future, all households should be provided with their monthly entitlement of food grains in terms of the NFS Act regardless of whether they fall in the category of priority household or not. The provision made under the NFS Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any other entitlement under any other government scheme.
- No household in a drought affected area shall be denied food grains as required under the NFS Act only because the household does not have a ration card. The requirement of a household having a ration card is directed to be substituted by an appropriate identification or proof of residence that is acceptable to the State Government.
- It is made clear that each of the States before us is fully entitled to provide any food grains or other items over and above and in addition to the entitlement of a household under the NFS Act. There is no restriction in this regard.
- The States of Bihar, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh must within a month from today make adequate provision for the supply of eggs or milk or any other nutritional substitute for children under the Mid-Day Meal Scheme. Eggs, milk or another nutritional substitute should be made available preferably five days in a week or at least three days in a week. The other States before us must make a similar provision for the supply of eggs or milk or any other nutritional substitute preferably five days in a week or at least three days in a week. Keeping in mind the children of this country, financial constraints shall not be an excuse for not complying with this direction. It is a sad commentary that we should have to say this but we need to in the interest of the children of our country.
- The States before us are directed to extend the Mid-Day Meal Scheme for the benefit of children during the summer vacation period in schools, if the extension has not yet been made, within a week from today. The Union of India shall immediately approve any such a proposal in consultation with these State Governments. This direction is being passed in the interest of children in drought-affected areas.
The Bench has criticised the Government for bringing into force a statute without putting in place the implementation machinery
“We might mention that the Union of India usually brings into force a statute without putting in place the implementation machinery. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the mechanism for enforcing several provisions of the NFS Act has not been established or constituted. This is completely inexplicable. We fail to understand how a statute enacted by Parliament can be given effect to without appropriate rules and regulations being framed for putting in place the nuts and bolts needed to give teeth to the law or setting up mechanisms in accordance with the provisions of the statute. It is perhaps this tardiness in execution” said the Bench.
Read the Judgment here.