“How can there be two Indias?” the Supreme Court asked the Centre on Wednesday while expressing concern over the growing instances of starvation deaths in the country.
A bench of justice Dalveer Bhandari and justice Deepak Verma gave its remark over the stark contradiction in the government’s approach towards eradication of malnutrition and questioned the rationale behind limiting the number of below poverty line (BPL) people across the country to just 36% of the population by relying on the 1991 census data.
The court has asked the Planning Commission to explain how it fixed the BPL population for 2011 on the basis of more than two-decade old census. It directed the deputy chairman of Planning Commission to file a comprehensive affidavit within a week and fixed May 10 to hear the matter further.
The court’s concern came during the hearing of a PIL, complaining about large scale irregularities in the public distribution system (PDS) mechanism of the country.
Its scathing observation against the government came when additional solicitor general Mohan Parasaran claimed that instances of malnutrition deaths were coming down and the government was determined to reduce the problem.
“You can't have two Indias. What is this stark contradiction in our whole approach in eradication of malnutrition. You say you are a powerful country but at the same time, starvation deaths are taking place in various parts of the country. It (malnutrition) must be totally eliminated and eradicated,” the bench said, wondering what was the logic behind government claiming there was adequate food grain in the country.
It added having a bumper crop season was a very “happy situation,” but, “was of no use if people did not get the benefit.” Speaking out against fixing just 36% as the BPL population, the bench said, “Even their (Congress-led states) affidavits insist that the BPL percentage is more than 36...”
The SC has asked government to appoint retired apex court judge DP Wadhwa as the chief of the high-powered committee on computerisation of PDS
The court said the government must also appoint a PUCL member in the committee
Also advised the government to adopt computerised system of global retail giants such as Walmart wherein an employee gets to know about even a "sale of a trouser" immediately.