New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday slammed the Centre for doing nothing to comply with its directions to supply food grain to the drought-affected areas under the National Food Security Act. The bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice N.V. Ramana said, “We will discharge the Union of India (as respondents from the case), if it is not able to do anything.”
The apex court also asked the PIL petitioner organisation, Swaraj Abhiyan, to file an affidavit flagging five or six direction that have not been complied with by the drought-hit states for initiation of contempt. Taking a dim view of the postcard approach of the central government, Justice Lokur said, “The moment we ask you questions, it is construeted as if we are attacking government of India.”
As Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha sought to play down the issue, Justice Lokur observed, “An Act of the Parliament (the National Food Security Act) is being violated with impunity, is not a small issue.” The bench said this while asking ASG Narasimha to explain what he had said in the affidavit.
Clearly exasperated over the way things were happening with states not complying with its orders and the Centre telling the court that it had sent them a communication, Justice Ramana said, “If this is the way the matter is going on, there is no need to hear it. We are wasting your time.”
“An Act (the National Food Security Act) passed by the Parliament has to be followed by the states. Let them say they don’t bother about the Act,” Justice Lokur said, asking ASG Narasimha: “Is there a remedy under the Contitution, if states don’t comply with the laws passed by the Parliament.”
The strong observation from the bench came in the course of the hearing on the compliance of several directions issued by the apex court in its judgment on a PIL by Swaraj Abhiyan. The organisation had sought the court’s intervention for relief to the poor people in drought-affected states, including Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana.
Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana have resisted the suggestion that they declare some of their districts as drought-affected. Pointing to the inaction by the states and the Centre, Justice Ramana said, “We are not getting any feel or visible change except funds have been released. The mechanism has failed. The Acts of Parliament and directions of the (top) court are not being implemented.”
“Is it possible to monitor the 13 odd states from here,” Justice Ramana asked as ASG Narasimha urged the court to monitor the implementation of its directions.