The Supreme Court today passed a slew of directions for effective implementation of provisions of the National Food Security (NFS) Act while observing that its compliance has been “pathetic”.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana directed that the secretary of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, should convene one or more meetings on or before August 31 of the secretaries concerned of all the states and Union territories to take stock of the implementation of the Act.
The apex court also asked the secretary to “brainstorm” over finding ways and means to effectively implement the provisions of the NFS Act, 2013 in “letter and spirit”.
“A law enacted by Parliament as a part of its social justice obligation must be given its due respect and must be implemented faithfully, sincerely and positively before the end of this year,” it said.
The bench also asked the secretary of the ministry to “emphatically request and commend” every state and Union Territory to notify appropriate rules for a grievance redressal mechanism under the Act and designate appropriate and independent officials as the district grievance redressal officer within a fixed timeframe within this year.
It also said that adequate publicity should be given to the appointment and designation of district grievance redressal officers so that an aggrieved person could approach them without any fear and with the expectation that it would be redressed.
The top court also said that the secretary should ask the states and Union territories to set up, establish and make fully functional state food commissions under the Act before the year end.
It said the secretary to ask the chief secretary of the each state to ensure that adequate arrangements were made to provide infrastructure, staff and other facilities for the meaningful functioning of state food commissions including preparation of annual reports.
“In our opinion, it would not be appropriate for reasons that we have already indicated to appoint another statutory commission or body to function as the state food commission unless it is absolutely necessary and completely unavoidable and only as a last resort,” it said.
“The secretary in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution of Government of India will emphatically commend and request every state government and Union Territory to constitute and establish a functioning vigilance committee in terms of section 29 of the NFS Act before the end of the year for the purposes of carrying out the duties and responsibilities mentioned in that section,” it said.
The apex court said the secretary should ensure that the social audit machinery postulated under the Act, which was already in place in so far as the MGNREGA Act was concerned, was established at the earliest with appropriate modifications to enable the states and Union territories to carry out a periodic social audit.
The apex court’s verdict came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking various reliefs for farmers in drought- affected states.
( Source – PTI )