NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and an NGO, which has alleged delay in the implementation of benefits under the National Food Security (NFS) Act, to give details of budget allocation for the scheme that also provides for Rs 6,000 cash benefit to pregnant and lactating women.
A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta was told by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, who appeared for NGO People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), that there was lack of funds to extend the Rs 6,000 cash benefit stipulated under the 2013 Act.
He said a total of around 2.4 crore women were eligible for the benefit and the total amount required for it came to around Rs 14,400 crore.
He also said that in 2015-16, the government had budgeted Rs 438 crore and only Rs 233 crore was released.
The bench asked Gonsalves what the budgetary allocation was for 2018-19.
Responding to the query, he said the budget was Rs of 2,700 crore for 2017-18 while for 2018-19, it was around Rs 2,300 crore.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) A N S Nadkarni, who was appearing for the Centre, said the budget was Rs 2,400 crore for 2018-19.
"You (government) have a scheme and you do not tell anybody that you have a scheme and keep it in your drawer and say that people are not coming. You give wide publicity to it," the bench told the ASG.
Nadkarni, however, said that government has given wide publicity to the scheme.
The bench asked both the Centre and the petitioner to file their respective affidavits giving all the details.
The petitioners have sought immediate implementation of the Act by the Centre as well as the states.