SC gets tough on execution of welfare schemes

RSTV Bureau
FILE: MGNREGA workers at a site. Photo-PTI

FILE: MGNREGA workers at a site.
Photo-PTI

The apex court on Monday came down heavily on some state governments for not implementing welfare schemes like food security act, mid-day meal and rural employment guarantee scheme. Hearing a public interest petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, the court asked why states were not implementing the laws passed by Parliament.

“What is Parliament doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it. Tomorrow somebody can say that it is not going to implement the CrPC, IPC and the Evidence Act,” a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by an NGO Swaraj Abhiyan which alleged that parts of states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh have been hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.

The bench also 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.

It asked the Centre to file the affidavit by February 10 and posted the matter for further hearing two days thereafter.

The apex court had on January 18 asked the Centre to give information about implementation of schemes under MGNREGA, Food Security Act and the mid-day meal schemes as to whether those affected were being provided the minimum required employment and food or not.

The PIL has sought implementation of the National Food Security Act which guarantees 5 kg of food grains per person, per month. It also sought a direction to authorities that affected families be also given pulses and edible oils.

The plea had said that school-going children be also given milk and eggs under the mid-day meal scheme.

It had also sought adequate and timely compensation for crop loss and input subsidy for the next crop to the farmers affected by drought and subsidised cattle fodder for animals.

The PIL, filed through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had alleged that the Centre and states “have been highly negligent in performing their obligations, causing enormous damage to the lives of the people due to their inaction, which is in contravention of the rights guaranteed under Articles 21 and 14 of the Constitution of India”.

The petition submitted that the drought has led to severe decline in farm employment available to the rural poor.

(With inputs from agencies)