The Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed a fine on five states and Delhi, saying that they had not taken the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools seriously, PTI reported.
The court fined Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Jammu and Kashmir Rs one lakh each, for their failure to create an online link along with a chart for monitoring the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in government-run schools. The court fined Delhi Rs two lakh for not providing it with information on the scheme.
A bench comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta said that the fines should be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks. The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee provides legal aid to people.
The court was hearing a petition filed by non-governmental organisation Antarrashtriya Manav Adhikaar Nigraani Parishad in 2013, which claimed that in over 12 lakh government-run and aided schools in India, children receive mid-day meals, but face the risk of food poisoning and related health hazards due to lack of monitoring of the scheme. The court had on March 23, 2017, asked the five states to put up the online link within three months.
“The mid-day meal scheme, which is of considerable benefit to the children in the country, is not being taken seriously by several states,” the top court said on Tuesday. “Data has not been supplied and there are allegations made by the petitioner about food grains disappearing and not reaching the schools and thereby denying the benefit of mid-day meal scheme to children.” The bench added that despite several orders to upload data online, some states have not cooperated.
The bench said that on October 26, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Odisha had promised to comply with the requirements of the scheme, and said they would put up the online links, but nothing has been done though more than a month has passed.
The counsel for Jammu and Kashmir claimed the state government has already uploaded the online link, but it is not working. “We do not see the value of a link that does not work,” the court answered. The bench then posted the matter for hearing after four weeks.