New Delhi: “Nobody wants to keep anybody hungry,” said the Supreme Court on Monday issuing notices to states on implementation of the grievance redressal mechanism under the National Food Security Act.
A Bench, headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Surya Kant, said the states had seen starvation as a major issue impeding development, and if Aadhaar verification was not done, then there were other supporting documents to avail the ration under the public distribution system.
“Identification is important, nobody wants to keep anybody hungry”, the Chief Justice said.
Senior advocate Collin Gonsalves, representing the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and others, alleged that the poor people had been denied food in the absence of Aadhaar card, contrary to the top court’s guidelines.
Collin informed the court on deaths due to starvation. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contested the claim. But the Chief Justice said the issue was extremely critical in nature.
The court observed that it was not inclined to comment on the issue connected with starvation deaths, and issued notice to states to apprise the court on the steps taken under section 14 and 16 of the Food Security Act, which involved implementing grievance redressal mechanism to ensure food for all.
Mehta, while referring to the June media reports on starvation deaths in Jharkhand, submitted the agencies investigated the matter in one state and found that the deaths were not connected to starvation.
The Bench said it would wait for the states’ response and scheduled the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
The Chief Justice said he was part of the judgement where it was ruled that essential services couldn’t be disrupted due to non-availability of Aadhaar card.
Attorney General K.K. Venugopal cited the section 40 of the Act that mandated states to establish grievance redressal mechanism or nodal officers to address grievances.