NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday decided to seek a response from state governments about the steps taken for implementation of a grievance redressal mechanism envisaged under the National Food Security Act.
"We don't want to say about that (starvation death)," a bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant said after issuing notices to state governments calling upon them to state the steps taken for implementation and putting in place the grievance redressal mechanism for ensuring food for all under the Act.
The bench, which posted the matter for hearing after four weeks, was told by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that "we investigated in one state and it was found that it was not a starvation death".
During a brief hearing, the bench observed that though the allegation of starvation death is an "explosive issue" but it would wait for the response of state governments on steps undertaken by them to set up grievance mechanism to deal with complaints of people with regard to non-delivery of food items under the law.
The Solicitor General was referring to the reports appearing in media in June this year that a person has died due to starvation in Jharkhand.
While Mehta was countering the claims of 20 starvation deaths in the country made by senior lawyer Collin Gonsalves, the CJI remarked: "this is an explosive issue".
Gonsalves, appearing for the People's Union for Civil Liberties and some other activists, alleged that poor people have been denied food in absence of Aadhaar card which was against the apex court guidelines.
Taking note of the submission, the CJI said, "I was part of the judgement which stated that essential services cannot be disrupted because of the non-availability of Aadhaar card".
Attorney General K K Venugopal also said that the Jharkhand government has denied starvation death as alleged by public-spirited persons like Gonsalves and referred to Section 40 of the Act that mandates every state government to have internal grievance redressal mechanism or nodal officers for effective and expeditious redressal of food grievance.
Gonsalves said there was no reason for the Centre and Jharkhand, which was represented by the Solicitor General, to resist the issuance of notice.
The bench was of the view that there was a need to ascertain whether the nodal officers who have to look after the grievances of people sit in the office or not as it was claimed that many of the states have not even appointed nodal officers.