NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday slammed the Gujarat government for not implementing the National Food Security Act, observing that the State was not implementing the law passed by Parliament.
“Do you want to break away from the Union of India? Can a State say that it cannot implement a law passed by the Parliament? Are you saying you are not part of India? What is the Government of India doing about this? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it,” a Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said in its scathing remarks. Gujarat State counsel Hemantika Wahi submitted that the implementation of the food security law was under the active consideration of the State government.
However, Justice Lokur replied it was a pity and asked whether Gujarat thought it had a choice not to implement the Parliamentary law. “So, tomorrow Bihar can say it will not implement the Criminal Procedure Code and some other States will say they do not believe in the Indian Penal Code or other laws of the Parliament. Food security law extends to the whole of India,” Justice Lokur insisted.
The Bench asked the Centre to collect and collate information from drought-hit States on the status of welfare schemes like MGNREGA, National Food Security and mid-day meal. The court also directed the Centre to file an affidavit in this regard by February 10 and slated the hearing for February 12.
The court had on January 18 asked the Centre to give information about implementation of schemes like MGNREGA, Food Security Act and the mid-day meal and explain whether those affected were being provided the minimum required employment and food. The Bench was hearing a PIL which alleged that parts of States like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh had been hit by drought but the authorities were not providing adequate relief.
The PIL, filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, had sought implementation of the National Food Security Act which guarantees 5 kg of foodgrains per person per month. It also sought a direction to the authorities to distribute pulses and edible oils to the affected families.