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SC summons Chief Secretaries of nine drought-hit states

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017,18:54 IST By anju A A A

New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned Chief Secretaries of nine drought affected states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, for failing to implement the National Food Security Act (NFSA).

A bench headed by Justice M B Lokur said despite considerable time having passed since the law came into force, these states have failed to enforce it.

“It is a matter of concern that a Parliamentary statute is not being given importance. Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution is also involved.

“State Food Commission, as mandated under section 16 of the National Food Security Act, has not being appointed,” the bench, also comprising Justice N V Ramana, said.

It said that with regard to the statute, the state governments have to appoint the food commission and it cannot give a “go by to the statute enacted by the Parliament”.

“In view of the above, we summon the Chief Secretaries of the states. We require the Chief Secretaries to appoint the state food commission and the details should be furnished.

“Details should also be given with regard to section 15 of the National Food Security Act by which state governments have to frame rules for the appointment or designation of the District Grievance Redressal Officer,” the bench said.

It directed the Chief Secretaries of the states to inform whether a social audit can be conducted, as provided under the Food Security Act or not.

Besides Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, other states whose Chief Secretaries have been summoned include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana and Chhattisgarh.

The court exempted the Chief Secretaries of Odisha, which has complied with certain directions, and Telangana which has initiated the process of constituting the commission. It also exempted Uttar Pradesh after it complied with certain directions.

The bench’s order came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking various relief for farmers in drought affected states.

The court also impleaded Reserve Bank of India as a party to the case as the guidelines issued for loan waiver and loan restructuring of farmers of drought-hit areas were not being implemented by banks.