The Supreme Court on Wednesday criticised the Centre for not complying with its directions to supply food grains to drought-affected states, The Indian Express reported. A two-judge bench comprising Justices MB Lokur and NV Ramana also asked the Union government to prepare relief measures for affected regions and not to repeat previous “mistakes” by “not declaring drought on time”.
The bench said the National Food Security Act was being “violated with impunity” as 13 states hit by drought last year had not formed commissions under the act, instead asking bodies such as consumer forums and women’s commissions to make preparations. “We pass orders. They [states] don’t obey and you [central government] throw up your hands,” the bench said.
Additional Solicitor-General PS Narasimha told the bench that the central government could only issue advisories to states in such matters, according to the Hindustan Times. However, he added that the Centre was taking steps to revise its drought policy as per the court’s directions. The revision process will be completed by December, Narasimha said.
The apex court’s criticism came during a compliance hearing on directions issued by it after a judgment on a public interest litigation filed by non-governmental organisation Swaraj Abhiyan. The organisation had sought the court’s intervention for providing relief to those people affected by drought across several states. It said data received from the Indian Meteorological Department showed districts in states such as Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab had received deficient rainfall.