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  India   All India  27 Apr 2017  Seven chief secretaries brief top court on steps for drought relief

Seven chief secretaries brief top court on steps for drought relief

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Apr 27, 2017, 4:31 am IST
Updated : Apr 27, 2017, 4:31 am IST

Observing that these states are not serious in constituting the commission, the bench asked the chief secretaries to be present in July.

Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: Chief secretaries of seven of the nine states summoned by the Supreme Court appeared in person to explain the steps taken by them on drought relief, in particular the setting up of State Food Security Commissions as contemplated under the Food Security Act.

On March 22, taking serious view of the non-implementation of drought relief measures, the apex court had asked the chief secretaries of Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra to be personally present in the court on Wednesday.

 

While chief secretaries of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Jharkhand were present on Wednesday, those of Karnataka and Telangana were absent. The chief secretary of Chhattisgarh made his presence in the court in the morning and left in view of the killings of CRPF personnel.

While exempting Telangana chief secretary in view of the visit of President Pranab Mukherhjee, the court refused to grant exemption to Karnataka and directed its chief secretary to be present in the court on Thursday.

A bench of Justices Madan B. Lokur and N.V. Ramana was hearing senior counsel Prashant Bhushan of Swaraj Abhiyan, contending that the 10 drought-affected states had not implemented the relief measures. He pointed out the states had not set up Food Security Commissions as provided under the Food Security Act.

 

During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the bench was not satisfied with the progress made by MP, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra as they failed to fully constitute the commission and that some members were yet to be appointed.

Observing that these states are not serious in constituting the commission, the bench asked the chief secretaries to be present in July.

As commissions were set up in Gujarat, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, the court exempted their appearance on the next date of hearing in July. Regarding Haryana, its chief secretary told the court that the issue is pending in the high court and hence he was also exempted.

 

In May last, the Supreme Court ordered the governments not to hide behind the “smokescreen of lack of funds” and provide wide-ranging relief for the drought-affected people in 12 states of the country, and implement the national Food Security Act in all the states. The directions included midday meals during the summer vacation, addition of egg or milk to the midday meal menu, universalise foodgrain ration, adequate, timely release of funds for the MNREGA and the implementation of crop loss compensation, agricultural loan restructuring and provision for cattle fodder.

The court had laid down new principles for declaration of drought. It expressed surprise that the implementation of a law enacted by Parliament such as the NFS Act is left to the whims and fancies of the State Governments, and it has taken more than two years after the NFS Act came into force for Gujarat to implement it and Uttar Pradesh has only implemented it partially. This is rather strange. A State Government, by delaying implementation of a law passed by the Parliament and assented to by the President of India, is effectively refusing to implement it and Parliament is left a mute spectator.

 

Tags: supreme court, chief secretaries, crpf, food security act
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi