SC flays Centre, states for ignoring order on commission to tackle drought
The Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre and states on Wednesday for disregarding an earlier verdict on tackling drought in various parts of the country and warned them not to repeat last year’s “mistakes”.india Updated: Oct 05, 2016 21:30 IST
The Supreme Court came down heavily on the Centre and states on Wednesday for disregarding an earlier verdict on tackling drought in various parts of the country and warned them not to repeat last year’s “mistakes”.
“We pass orders. They (states) don’t obey and you (Central government) throw up your hands,” said a bench of justices MB Lokur and NV Ramanna. It said the court may be left with no option but to appoint court commissioners.
The top court’s stinging criticism came on a petition by an NGO, Sawaraj Abhiyan, which had moved the top court seeking judicial intervention to tackle a severe rural distress triggered by back-to-back drought that affected 33 crore people in 10 states.
A crippling drought earlier this year had forced water rationing in some states, deployment of armed guards at reservoirs and even prompted the judiciary to throw cricket matches out of Maharashtra in unprecedented measures to tackle the situation.
Though a good monsoon since then has eased the situation large parts of the country, deficient rainfall in some areas have left thousands of farmers in at least 149 districts to fend for themselves.
The bench was irked by non-compliance by 13 states – that faced drought last year — in setting up commissions under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) to ensure smooth implementation of the welfare legislation. The Centre washed its hands when the bench asked what it has done to ensure the implementation.
The bench was infuriated when told that instead of constituting appropriate panels the 13 states had entrusted the task to existing commissions such as consumer forums, women’s commission, child rights commission and grievance commissions.
“What is this? Is this a joke? The law framed by the Parliament is being violated with impunity,” the bench said as one of the judges threw a paper submitted by additional solicitor general PS Narasimha.
The law officer admitted that such appointments violated the law but said the Centre could only issue advisory to states.
“Don’t dig the well when the house is on fire. We are concerned about the approach. You should change your mind set. Don’t repeat last year’s mistake of not declaring drought on time,” the bench added.
Narasimha said the Centre has taken steps to revise the drought manual as per the court’s direction. He said the process will be over by December.
First Published: Oct 05, 2016 21:30 IST