Supreme Court asks States to furnish data on malnutrition and hunger in matter pertaining to setting up of community kitchens

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A Supreme Court bench headed by CJI NV Ramana and comprising of Justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli today asked the states to file an affidavit furnishing data on malnutrition and hunger. The bench further urged the centre not to consider this litigation as adversarial.

When the hearing for the matter commenced Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal informed the court that the government is already spending huge amounts on 131 schemes pertaining to distribution of food grains and that such a scheme would cost the government dearly. The CJI at this juncture pointed out that the National Family Health Survey report indicates that malnutrition is the cause death especially among children below the age of five. The CJI further informed the AG that the court would not frame a scheme today itself but asked the AG to furnish latest data on starvation deaths. The AG pointed out that the centre depends on the reporting of States to ascertain starvation deaths and that the States in their affidavit have not filed any such details.

The CJI informed the AG that the State are seeking funds from the Centre to run community kitchens. The CJI said, “We understand each State has its own problem , we are not asking you to formulate a straight jacket scheme. Formulate a model scheme and leave it to the States.”

The CJI further informed the AG that some states like UP are seeking 2-3% of their grain allocation to run their scheme. The couple for petitioner asked to court to appoint a expert committee to formulate the scheme. The AG said, “I would suggest the States file an affidavit on starvation deaths. We don’t dispute that there is malnutrition. The issue is of finances.” 
The AG further said that the centre will consider allocation 2% additional food grains depending on the affidavit. The AG said, “It has to been if the 2% is acceptable by all States.”

The bench on hearing the submissions asked the States to file affidavits on malnutrition and hunger and directed that the matter be listed in 3 weeks.

The Supreme Court in October directed the Central Government to frame a scheme for pan-India Community Kitchens after consultation with the State Governments taking into consideration the existing policies.

The PIL sought direction to establish community kitchens across the country to combat prevalent hunger, malnutrition & starvation and prevent the death of persons resulting thereof.

The plea further stated, "the Right to Food is a fundamental human right recognized under national and international law, which protects the right of people to access food and feed themselves. The right to food is interlinked to one’s right to life and dignity and requires that food be available, accessible, and adequate for everyone without discrimination or any inequality.

Earlier, the Court had directed the States of Maharashtra, Odisha, Goa, Sikkim, NCT of Delhi, and U.T. of Ladakh to file their counter-affidavits within a period of one week after depositing costs of Rs.5,00,000/-. The court however waived the cost today.


Case title: Anun Dewan Vs Union of India