SC leaves it to states to decide on setting up community kitchens | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC leaves it to states to decide on setting up community kitchens

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 23, 2024 08:41 AM IST

A bench of justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal expressed satisfaction with central and state schemes providing food to marginalised sections

The Supreme Court has left it to the states and union territories (UTs) to decide on setting up community kitchens to tackle hunger and starvation deaths while dismissing a public interest litigation (PIL). The PIL sought such kitchens across the country for food and nutritional security.

The Supreme Court. (ANI)
The Supreme Court. (ANI)

A bench of justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal on Thursday refused to examine the issue maintaining that the scope of judicial review in examining policy matters is very limited. It expressed satisfaction with central and state schemes providing food to marginalised sections.

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“We have not examined whether the concept of Community Kitchens is a better or wiser alternative available to the states to achieve the object of National Food Security Act...(NFSA). Rather, we would prefer to leave it open to the states/UTs to explore such alternative welfare schemes as may be permissible under the NFSA,” it said.

“When the NFSA with a ‘right based approach’ for providing food and nutritional security is in force and when other welfare schemes under the said Act have also been framed and implemented by the Union of India and the states to ensure access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity, we do not propose to give any further direction in that regard.”

In October 2021, the court directed the Union government to have a meeting with stakeholders to consider the feasibility of community kitchens or other similar schemes to provide subsidised food to people without the financial wherewithal to sustain their lives.

The court sought status reports from states even as it expressed concerns over malnutrition among children. It dismissed concerns about starvation deaths relying on the state affidavits saying no such fatalities were reported.

The Union government informed the court that it is committed to addressing the concerns raised in the petition while listing out social welfare schemes.

The court cited a systematic legal framework under the NFSA for the implementation of schemes and programmes such as the Mid-day Meal Scheme. “...we do not propose to direct the states/UTs to implement the concept of Community Kitchens.”

Global Hunger Index 2023 ranked India 111th out of 125 countries even as the government dismissed the ranking as “erroneous”.

The Union government told the court about the Cash Transfer of Food Subsidy Rules, which enable the states to provide food subsidies in cash directly into the bank accounts of entitled households to purchase food grains from the open market.

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