SC slams Centre on job scheme

SC slams Centre on job scheme

SC slams Centre on job scheme

The Supreme Court slammed the Centre on Friday for poor implementation of the employment guarantee scheme and the food security law saying “social justice has been thrown out of the window by the Union government.”

While examining the implementation of all social welfare legislations, the court pulled up the Centre over the “unconscionable delay” in releasing funds for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and asked the government to set up a watchdog committee to ensure that schemes meant for the people actually benefitted them.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and N V Ramana found substantial inadequacies in implementing laws, including the midday meal scheme.  The court criticised the Union government for making no provision for providing compensation for non-employment of labourers and also issued directions to states to ensure no person was deprived of food grains in drought-affected areas.

In 3 separate judgments passed on one PIL filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan, the court directed the Centre, state governments, the Reserve Bank of India and other banks to religiously implement their policies on fodder bank, crop loan re-structuring and relief.

Rejecting the plea citing lack of adequate finances, the court said: “One can hardly imagine what the consequence would be if a state government, on a similar logic, decides that it will not implement other parliamentary statutes meant for the benefit of vulnerable sections of society. Hopefully, someone, somewhere, sometime will realise the possible alarming consequences.”

Noting that at least one-fourth (about 33 crore) of the country’s population was affected by drought, the court directed the state governments to take appropriate steps to ensure that at least the statutory requirement of food grains made under the National Food Security (NFS) Act was made available to the people, including those not having ration cards.

Reiterating that the right to food is actually a constitutional right and not merely a statutory right, the court ordered Bihar, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to make adequate provision for the supply of eggs or milk or any other nutritional substitute for children under the midday meal scheme within a month, preferably five days or at least three days in a week.

Keeping the interest of children in drought-effected areas, the court directed for extension of midday meal scheme for the benefit of children during the summer vacation period in schools.

After finding that Gujarat implemented the NFS Act, 2013, from April 1 this year and Uttar Pradesh did it partially, the bench said the law cannot be left to whims and fancies of the states as it may lead to utter chaos and worse.

The court asked the Union government to file a status report on July 25 and put the matter for issuing further orders on August 1. 

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