SC slaps fine of Rs 5 lakh on states for failing to file reply on PIL for community kitchen.

Irked over repeated failures of the states to file their replies, the Supreme Court on Monday came down heavily and imposed cost of Rs five lakh on them for not complying with its directions to file their affidavits on a PIL seeking setting up of community kitchens across the country.

A bench of Justice N V Ramana, Ajay Rastogi and V Ramasubramanian, during hearing in the morning, said if the Union of India and the states file their affidavit in the next 24 hours then they will have to pay only Rs one-lakh fine, whereas those who still fail to submit it by then will have to pay Rs 5-lakh fine.

The top court said that five states — Punjab, Nagaland, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand — and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar, who have filed their responses on the PIL filed by Arun Dhawan, will not pay any fine.

Advocate Ashima Mandla, appearing for the petitioner said that five months have passed since the apex court had issued notice and except for five states and one union territory, no other states and UTs have filed their response.

She said that 69 per cent of children under the age of five who have lost their lives are due to malnutrition and it is high time that States take steps to set up community kitchens.

Additional Solicitor General Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Centre sought some more time to file response to the PIL.

The bench, however, posted the matter for further hearing on February 17 and asked the Centre and state to file their responses at the earliest with the cost.

The apex court had on October 18 favoured setting up of community kitchens, saying the country needs this kind of system to tackle the problem of hunger.

It had issued notices to the Centre and all states seeking their responses on a PIL seeking directions to all the states and union territories (UTs) to formulate a scheme for community kitchens to combat hunger and malnutrition.

The plea had claimed that many children, under the age of five, die every day due to hunger and malnutrition and this condition was violative of various fundamental rights, including the right to food and life of citizens.

The PIL, filed by social activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh, had also sought a direction to the Centre for creating a national food grid for people falling outside the purview of the public distribution scheme.

It had also sought issuance of an order to the National Legal Services Authority (NLSA) for formulating a scheme to mitigate hunger-related deaths.

The plea referred to the state-funded community kitchens being run in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Odisha, Jharkhand and Delhi that serve meals at subsidised rates in hygienic conditions.

The plea also referred to the concepts of soup kitchen, meal centre, food kitchen or community kitchen, in other countries, where food is offered to the hungry usually for free or sometimes at below-market price.

The petition, filed through advocates Ashima Mandla and Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi, had said that the Centre and its various ministries have initiated and implemented various schemes to combat hunger, malnutrition and the resulting starvation, although in reality, effective implementation of the schemes was “unclear and fairly limited”.

The statistics on starvation deaths in the country are unavailable and starvation as the cause of death can only be ascertained upon autopsy after death, the plea said, adding that global agencies report that more than three lakh children die every year in India because of hunger, whereas 38 per cent below the age of five are stunted.

“Implementation of community kitchens funded by state or in association with corporate social responsibility by a public-private partnership (PPP) may be implemented to complement the existing schemes,” it said.

The petition also said that a 2010 report by the World Food Programme on the state of food insecurity in India indicates that increasing urban inequality, significant under-investment in urban health and nutrition infrastructure, workforce in casual or contract employment or even less remunerative self-employment, growth of slums and slum population lacking in most basic health and hygiene infrastructure has resulted in a permanent food and nutrition emergency.

Supreme Court collegium recommends Justice V Ramasubramanian as CJ of Himachal HC

Justice V Ramasubramanian, the senior-most judge of the Madras High Court, has been elevated as the Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, according to a resolution passed by the Supreme Court collegium.

The collegium, headed by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, passed the resolution on May 10.

In its resolution, the Supreme Court collegium said, “The office of the Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court would be falling vacant, very shortly consequent upon elevation of Justice Surya Kant, Chief Justice of that High Court, to the Supreme Court, in terms of a recommendation made by the collegium on May 8.”

Therefore, appointment to that office is required to be made, the SC said.

Justice V Ramasubramanian, the senior-most Judge from Madras High Court, is functioning on transfer in Telangana High Court.

Having regard to all relevant factors, the collegium is of the considered view that Justice V Ramasubramanian is suitable in all respects for being appointed as Chief Justice of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, it said.

While making the above recommendation, the collegium has also taken into consideration the fact that at present there is only one Chief Justice from the Madras High Court.

HC dismisses demand by MHAA on appointment of judges

Madras High Court Advocates AssociationTaking a dig at advocates and Bar Association leaders who filed a PIL opposing the list of nine names forwarded by the High Court to the Supreme Court for appointment as judges, the Madras High Court today said if this type of unhealthy trend continued, all cases would end being transferred to other courts.

A division bench, headed by Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice P R Shivakumar, observed that the advocates and Bar Association leaders, who earlier demanded their participation in the selection process of the High Court judges, are now suggesting which case has to be posted for hearing and which judge should hear it.

The Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) secretary Arivazhagan had filed a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to return the list of nine names recommended by the High Court for appointment as judges on grounds, including “arbitrariness”, in the process of selection and that it had ignored eligible candidates from ‘un-represented’ and ‘under-represented’ communities.

When the PIL was posted before the present bench on February 24, the Association leaders gave a representation saying a different bench should hear the case as Justice Ramasubramanian was part of the discussion relating to the appointment and he belonged to Brahmin community, which they said was “over-represented in the High Court.

He had then rejected the demand saying the representation had already been refused to be accepted by Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.

Today also, the judge rejected the plea for transferring the case to another bench, saying advocates are now trying to decide as to which bench should hear which case.

Referring to a TV debate on judges appointment in which MHAA president R C Paul Kanagaraj participated, the judge said he too was ready to participate in a debate on the issue and expose the “false” statements spread by advocates.

He also rejected the Association president S Prabakaran’s stand that once an impression of bias rises in advocates’ minds, the judge should recuse himself from the case and adjourned the matter by two weeks, on request from the lawyers.

HC directs Registrar file report on destitute home

Madras High CourtMadras High Court today directed Registrar of the court to visit the Akshaya Trust Destitute Home here along with Medical Officers and ascertain the mental and physical conditions of the inmates there.

They should file a report about the conditions prevailing there along with the desires of the inmates, Justice V Ramasubramanian and Justice V M Vimala of the Madurai bench said a after report by the Advocate Commissioner was submitted today on the condition of the home.

The Advocate Commissioner was appointed following a petition by a functionary of All India Democratic Women’s Association seeking a probe into the affairs of the home.

The court also directed ADSP Shyamala Devi to probe into the death of 22 inmates of the home in the last 14 months. It took a serious view of the deaths of inmates in the home.

There were 467 inmates in the home of whom 388 wanted to leave the institution. As many 180 persons at the home had mental illness and 44 were mentally retarded, the Advocate Commissioner said in the report, which was made available to the media by the court, said.

The home had violated conditions regarding the number of inmates permitted as per rules. Twenty five women had been accommodated in one building and they shared three bathrooms and three toilets. They were not provided toiletry items, the report said, adding, the home did not have proper safety measures.

The report said many persons had been detained without their consent and they should be set free if they were not mentally challenged.

The bench also instructed the Advocate Commissioner to take the help of students of Lady Doak College here to analyse the records of the home and to inspect the home again and posted the case for further hearing to Friday.

(Source: PTI)