NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the Chief Secretaries of nine drought-affected states for failing to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
A Bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said despite considerable time given to these states, they have failed to enforce it.
“It is a matter of concern that a Parliamentary statute is not being given importance. Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution is also involved. State Food Commission, as mandated under section 16 of the National Food Security Act, has not being appointed,” the bench said.
“It was the duty of the state governments to appoint the food commission and it cannot give a go by to the statute enacted by the Parliament. In view of the above, we summon the Chief Secretaries of the states. We require the Chief Secretaries to appoint the state food commission and the details should be furnished,” the order stated.
It directed the Chief Secretaries of the states to inform whether a social audit can be conducted and file affidavits explaining the measures taken by them to deal with the drought situation.
Besides Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, other states whose Chief Secretaries have been summoned include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.
The court exempted the Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Telangana, which have complied with certain directions.
The order came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking various relief for farmers in drought-affected states.
The court also asked Reserve Bank of India to look into the issue whether the guidelines issued for loan waiver and loan restructuring of farmers of drought-hit areas were implemented by banks or not.
The court also asked the Attorney General to file a detailed affidavit on MNREGA scheme dealing with aspects like delay in payment of wages, interest and compensation, reduction in man-days, functioning of central employment guarantee council, social audit and the report of task force.
The court posted the matter for further hearing on April 26. The PIL has alleged that parts of 12 states—Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh — were hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.
The apex court had on December 1 last year rejected the contention of the Attorney General that a political party or its wing cannot file a PIL being an interested party.