Supreme Court: Stating that the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFS Act), which is a social justice and social welfare legislation, is not being implemented as it should be, the bench of Madan B. Lokur and N.V. Ramana, JJ said that the NFS Act must be given its due respect and must be implemented faithfully and sincerely and positively before the end of this year. The Court directed the Secretary in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution of the Government of India to:
- convene one or more meetings on or before 31st August, 2017 of the concerned Secretaries of all the State Governments and Union Territories to take stock of the implementation of the NFS Act and brainstorm over finding ways and means to effectively implement the provisions of the NFS Act in letter and spirit.
- ask every State Government and Union Territory to notify appropriate rules for a Grievance Redressal Mechanism under the provisions of the NFS Act and designate appropriate and independent officials as the District Grievance Redressal Officer within a fixed time frame and in any case within this year.
- Ask the State Governments and Union Territories to constitute, establish and make fully functional a State Food Commission under the provisions of the NFS Act before the end of the year.
- Ask every State Government and Union Territory to constitute and establish a functioning Vigilance Committee in terms of Section 29 of the NFS Act before the end of the year for the purposes of carrying out the duties and responsibilities mentioned in that Section.
- ensure that the social audit machinery postulated by Section 28 of the NFS Act and which is already in place in so far as the MGNREGA Act is concerned is established at the earliest with appropriate modifications to enable every State Government and Union Territory so that a periodic social audit is conducted and the NFS Act is purposefully implemented for the benefit of the people.
Writing down a separate but concurring judgment, N.V. Ramana, J said that it is not proper on the part of the States to ignore the plight of the common man in enforcing such important legislations, more so when such legislation is a welfare legislation. Stating that at every stage of decision making the Central Government has a very important role to play and has been envisaged as a check on the working of the State Governments, he noticed that the NFS Act elaborates on the nature of federalism as a functional arrangement for co-operative action and a combined effort, both by Center and States, needs to be taken for effective implementation of the Act especially in the draught affected areas so as to save people from abject poverty and poor quality of life. [Swaraj Abhiyan (v) v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 782, decided on 21.07.2017]