SC slaps fine on states for no reply on community kitchen schemes


Feb 11, The five states of Punjab, Nagaland, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Jharkhand, along with the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar, were slapped with a fine of Rs. 5 lakh each by the Supreme Court on Monday for not complying with its directions to file affidavits on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking setting up of a state-funded Public-Private-Partnership community kitchens across the country, reported Live Law.

The bench headed by Justice N V Ramana said that those states which comply and file affidavits by tomorrow, will have to pay a fine of Rs. 1 lakh; whereas those who delay will have to pay Rs. 5 lakhs.

The PIL was filed in August last year by social activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh through advocates Ashima Mandla, Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi and Mandakini Singh.

The community kitchens were established by the respective states with the objective of combating hunger and the malnutrition crisis by providing nutritious food at subsidized rates to the socio-economically backward classes of society.

In their petition, the advocates had referred to Tamil Nadu’s Amma Unavagam, Rajasthan’s Annapurna Rasoi, Karnataka’s Indira Canteens, Delhi’s Aam Aadmi Canteen, Andhra Pradesh’s Anna Canteen, Jharkhand’s Mukhyamantri Dal Bhat Yojana and Odisha’s Ahaar Centre which were successfully combating malnutrition and the starvation crisis.

Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Ashima Mandla said that 69 percent of deaths under the age of five happened due to malnutrition and it was high time the states took steps to set up community kitchens. The petitioners said that the alarming rates of hunger and malnutrition in the country were threatening the ‘Right to Food’ and thereby the ‘Right to Life’ enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. Citing a United Nations and World Health Organization report, they said that 7,000 persons (including children) die of hunger every day and over 25 lakh persons, die of hunger annually.

The petitioners also asked the SC to pass directions to the Central government to create a national food grid for persons who are not in the fold of Public Distribution Schemes due to either homelessness or non-issuance of cards that are required to avail government schemes.

Additional Solicitor General, Madhavi Divan, appearing for the Centre sought more time from the SC to file a response in the matter.

The next hearing in the case has now been scheduled for February 17, 2020.

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