The BJP government in Haryana has ordered the removal of the chairperson and five members of the State Food Commission by rescinding the August 2014 notification of their appointment.
Were appointed by previous Hooda govt
The chairperson and five members were appointed by the previous Congress government last year.
However, the state government’s January 13 order in this regard looks legally untenable in view of the defined conditions and procedure laid down for their removal in the National Food Security Act, 2013.
Officials said that for ordering the removal of the commission members and chairperson, the state government had taken advice from the legal remembrance (LR) and the advocate general (AG).
Constitution of panel legally flawad: Govt
Primarily, the government has taken the ground that the constitution of the State Food Commission was legally flawed as the previous government did not appoint any person from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the commission as per section 16 of the Act.
However, legal experts say that since there are no scheduled tribes in Haryana, the proviso does not apply to the state. Instead the previous government had appointed two scheduled caste (SC) persons as member and member secretary.
Govt cites food act in its favour
As per the order of the state government, the Haryana governor rescinded the August 4, 2014 notification (for appointing the chairperson and members of the commission) in exercise of powers conferred under section 16 of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The section 16 of the Act clearly stipulates that the state government may remove from office the chairperson or any member of the commission “who is, or at any time has been, adjudged as an insolvent; or has become physically or mentally incapable of acting as a member or has been convicted of an offence which, in the opinion of the state government involves moral turpitude; or has acquired such financial or other interest as is likely to affect prejudicially his functions as a member or has so abused his position as to render his continuation in office detrimental to the public interest”.
However, the Act says, “No such chairperson or member shall be removed on the grounds of acquiring financial or other interest or abusing his position unless he has been given a reasonable opportunity of being heard in the matter’’.
When asked, additional chief secretary, food and supplies, SS Prasad said that the constitution of the State Food Commission had legal flaws.
“One of the major defect was that no member was appointed from the scheduled tribe category. There were couple of other issues,’’ Prasad said. Asked how can a person from ST category be appointed when there were no scheduled tribes in Haryana, Prasad said that they could be anywhere from outside Haryana.
Legal experts, however, said that constitution of the State Food Commission was enshrined in the Act as a part of the redressal mechanism to monitor and review the implementation of the Food Security Act. The representation mandated to scheduled castes and tribes in the commission was to protect the interests of these communities. Since Haryana does not have Scheduled Tribes, it would have been pointless to appoint a person from the ST category in the Commission.
Two persons from the scheduled caste category -- retired IRS officer Yashpal and member secretary Renu Phulia -- were appointed in the commission. While former IAS officer, RS Doon was appointed as chairperson of the commission, former director general of animal husbandry department, Dr KS Dangi, retired IAS officer Satwanti Ahlawat, Hemant Sharma and Brahmdeep Singh were appointed as members.