Taking strong exception to non-compliance of its 2004 order on implementation of Integrated Child Development Scheme, the Supreme Court on Wednesday issued contempt notices to 15 states asking their Chief Secretaries to explain within four weeks why action should not be initiated for the lapse.
A Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and Justice SH Kapadia directed the Chief Secretaries of Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Punjab, West Bengal, Assam, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to personally appear before it to explain why its October seven 2004 order was not implemented. It posted the matter for hearing after three months.
The order came on a PIL filed by Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in 2001 seeking directions to the Centre and State governments for full and proper implementation of the Scheme.
The PUCL had alleged that the orders issued by the court regarding implementation of the ICDS were complied with.
The states and union territories issued contempt notices are - Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Goa, Punjab, Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar, Delhi and Lakshadweep.
The court also asked the Chief Secretaries of all states/union territories to file affidavits giving details of the steps taken for implementation of the said order and indicate a time-frame within which the decentralisation of the supply of Supplementary Nutrition Programme (SNP) through local community shall be done.
In the October 7, 2004 order, the court had ordered that "contractors shall not be used for supply of nutrition in Angan Wadis and preferably ICDS funds shall be spent by making use of village communities, self-help groups and Mahila Mandals for buying of grains and preparation of meals."
The court directed the Centre to sanction Rs 3.5 lakh additional to Angan Wadi Centres (AWCs) across the country for universalisation of the ICDS.
"The government of India shall sanction and operationalise a minimum of 14 lakh AWCs (of which 10.50 lakh already sanctioned) in a phased and even manner starting forthwith and ending December 2008," the Bench said.
The Bench, which issued several directions in this regard, said "in doing so, the central government shall identify scheduled caste and scheduled tribe halmets/habitations for AWCs on a priority basis."
The scheme is meant for children in the age group of 0-6, pregnant women, lactating mothers and adolescent girls.
Ordering universalisation of the scheme, it asked the government to extend all ICDS services like supplementary nutrition, growth monitoring, nutrition and health education, immunisation, referral and pre-school education to every child, pregnant woman, lactating mother and adolescent girl.
Directing all the states and union territories to fully implement the ICDS, it ordered that at least Rs 2 per child be allocated and spent under the SNP, Rs 2.70 for every severely malnaurished child and Rs 2.30 for every pregnant woman, nursing mother and adolescent girl per day.
Half the expenditure shall be incurred by the central government, it said. The court also directed the states to file affidavits with details of all habitations with a majority of SC/ST households, the availibility of AWCs in these habitations and the plan of action for unsuring that they get functional AWCs in 2 years.