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Plea to set up pan-India community kitchens: Supreme Court comes down heavily on States that failed to respond

Taking a serious view of the same, the Court has ordered that Rs 1 lakh be imposed on the respondents who failed to respond, provided that a reply is filed within 24 hours of the order. Rs 5 lakhs costs are to be imposed on respondents who fail to respond even after the passage of 24 hours.

Bar & Bench

The Supreme Court today came down heavily on the State authorities that have failed to respond to the plea seeking the establishment of pan-India community kitchens to combat hunger starvation and malnutrition.

The Court had issued notice in the matter to the Central Government and State Governments in October last year. However, since then, only six counter affidavits were filed in reply.

Taking a serious view of the same, the Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana has ordered that Rs 1 lakh be imposed on the respondents who failed to respond, provided that a reply is filed within 24 hours of the order. Rs 5 lakhs costs are to be imposed on respondents who fail to respond even after the passage of 24 hours.

The plea filed by activists Anun Dhawan, Ishann Dhawan and Kunjana Singh, through Advocates Ashima Mandla, Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi and Mandakini Singh, makes the following prayers:

  • Direct the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories to formulate a scheme for the implementation of community kitchens and to further ensure that no person should sleep on an empty stomach.

  • Direct the National Legal Services Authority to formulate a scheme to further the provisions of Article 51A of the Constitution of India in order to mitigate deaths resulting from hunger, malnutrition and starvation.

  • Direct the Central Government to create a national food grid for those persons beyond the scope of the Public Distribution Scheme (PDS).

The prayers have been made citing the acute problem of malnutrition and starvation deaths that continue to take place in India, in violation of the Right to Food and inspite of various food security schemes introduced by the government.

The petitioners go on to argue that state-funded community kitchens may be a possible way to resolve the food accessibility crisis. In this regard, successful models of community kitchens in various states in India as well as similar models in countries like. US, UK and Canada have been cited. Referring to the successes of these models, the petitioners further argue that community kitchens would not only ameliorate the hunger crisis in India, but also serve to provide employment.

In this backdrop, the petitioners have called on the Supreme Court’s intervention to facilitate the setting up of country-wide community kitchens to supplement existing food security schemes. The petitioners have also suggested that such kitchens be managed with state funding or as a Public-Private Partnership activity with funding as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

[Read the order]

Supreme Court order - Community Kitchens - Feb 10.pdf
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