In a scathing criticism for governments of Gujarat and the Centre, the Supreme Court on Monday asked why National Food Security Act had not been implemented properly.
The apex court directed the Centre to furnish detail of how the states of Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar were implementing ‘drought management schemes, if any.’
“What is Parliament doing? Is Gujarat not a part of India? The Act says it extends to whole of India and Gujarat is not implementing it. Tomorrow somebody can say that it is not going to implement the CrPC, IPC and the Evidence Act,” a bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said.
This came after the Centre informed the SC that the states of Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar ha yet not declared drought.
The central government also informed the Supreme Court that two union territories and nine states were not implementing the food security act.
The government counsel added that that the Centre had held series of meetings with state authorities and relevant departments primarily to monitor the implementation of the act.
To which the SC asked why many states had yet to notify about the food security act.
In more embarrassment to the Modi government, another BJP-ruled state Maharashtra informed the SC that despite it declaring “drought like situation” in 15,747 villages of 21 districts in 2015, no Central funds had come its way.
A civil society group Swaraj Abhiyaan led by Yogendra Yadav had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court seeking implementation of the food security act for drought hit areas in the country.
It had alleged that parts of states like Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chattisgarh have been hit by drought and the authorities were not providing adequate relief.
The Centre has been asked to file a detailed affidavit by 10 February.
The Supreme Court’s criticism comes two days after Gujarat High Court had slammed the Anandiben Patel’s government for the same reason.
The Gujarat High Court on Friday had issued notices to the state government and the Director of Food and Civil Supply on a public interest litigation alleging non-implementation of the National Food Security Act.
The bench comprising acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice V M Pancholi posted the matter for further hearing on 17 February after issuing notices.
Earlier in December, the Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh had informed the Rajya Sabha that as eight states were reeling under the drought of which seven had sought more than Rs 24,000 crore as financial assistance from the Centre under NDRF.
He had said, “Eight states – Karnataka, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh – have reported occurrence of drought on account of deficit rainfall in Kharif 2015.”