The Supreme Court on Tuesday noted that people were ‘suffering from hunger and dying of hunger’, and directed the Centre to develop a scheme, after consulting with various state governments. The top court was hearing a plea seeking the setting up of community kitchens across the country, to address hunger and malnutrition.
A bench headed by Chief Justice N.V. Ramana told Attorney General K.K. Venugopal, “See if you want to take care of hunger, no constitution, law or court will say no. My suggestion again is…already we’re delaying, so further adjournments won’t help… We’ll give you the final time of two weeks, please hold that meeting (with state governments to develop a scheme)…”
The Chief Justice told the Centre that ‘people are dying of hunger and malnutrition is a separate issue, and do not mix them’, and added that it is not bothered about the international malnutrition index, but it’s only aim is to curb the hunger issues in the country. The bench said for any welfare state, the first responsibility is not to allow people to die of hunger.
At the beginning of the hearing, the bench, also comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hima Kohli slammed the Centre stating that it appears from the affidavit and submissions of the Centre that it is still in the process of gathering suggestions on the matter.
The bench noted, “It looks like the government is not in a mood to implement the scheme…”
After hearing detailed arguments in the matter, the top court said it will grant three weeks’ time to the Central government to come up with some scheme which can be agreeable by various state governments also.
The bench noted that if state governments have any objection, it will be taken up in the next hearing. “We direct all states to cooperate with the Government of India in coming up with a scheme…”, said the bench.
The petition sought subsidised canteens in all states and union territories to ensure food security, in the backdrop of the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.