Supreme Court: A 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, CJ and BR Gavai and Surya Kant, JJ took suo motu cognisance of nonavailability of mid-day meals for children due to the closure of schools due to coronavirus spread and issued notices to all state governments and union territories.
“it is necessary, that all the States should come out with a uniform policy so as to ensure, that while preventing spread of COVID-19, the schemes for providing nutritional food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not adversely affected.”
The Court noticed that non-supply of nutritional food to the children as well as lactating and nursing mothers may lead to large-scale malnourishment. Particularly, the children and the lactating and nursing mothers in rural as well as tribal area are prone to such mal-nourishment. Such mal-nutrition may affect their immunity system and as such, such children and lactating and nursing mothers would be more prone to catch the infection.
“While dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis.”
The Court also took note of the fact that in some districts, though the schools and Anganwadis have been shut down, the parents have been told to pick up nutritional food for their children from such centres.
In order to take control of the situation, the Court, hence, issue notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Union of India as well as the Chief Secretaries/Chief Administrators/Administrators of all the States and the Union Territories to put in their response on an affidavit within one week.
The Court also appinted Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde as Amicus Curiae to assist the Court in the matter.
Union government had earlier announced the complete shut down of all educational institutions, places of social gatherings like swimming pools, spas, gyms, museums and cultural centers in a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in India has reached 147, including 122 Indians and 24 foreign nationals, according to government data on Wednesday morning.
[IN RE : REGARDING CLOSURE OF MID-DAY MEAL SCHEME , 2020 SCC OnLine SC 342, order dated 18.03.2020]