Right to Food case: PUCL vs Union of India & Ors


Supreme Court hearings on the right to food (PUCL vs Union of India and others, Civil Writ Petition 196 of 2001) have been held at regular intervals since April 2001. Though the judgement is still awaited, interim orders have been passed from time to time. Order of October 29, 2002: The hearing on October 29 resulted in the clarification of some points pertaining to the previous orders. The Supreme Court reaffirmed the previous orders and issued some of the following broad points as the order.
  • Chief Secretaries will be held responsible if starvation deaths occur in their states
  • Each state will appoint one officer as an assistant to the commissioner
  • One last chance is given to the states to take up the publicity of the orders and translate them
Order of 8 May 2002:
  • The order said that gram panchayats shall frame employment generation proposals in accordance with the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) guidelines. These proposals shall be approved and sanctioned by the Gram Panchayats and the work started expeditiously.
  • The respondents shall focus the SGRY programme towards agricultural wage earners, non-agricultural unskilled wage earners, marginal farmers and in particular, SC and ST persons whose wage income constitutes a reasonable proportion of their household income and to give priority to them in employment, and within this section shall give priority to women.
  • The Indian government shall release money entitlements under the different employment generation schemes to each state on schedule, provided that utilisation certificates have been provided by the states certifying that the funds have been used for the specified purpose.
  • The gram sabhas are entitled to conduct Social Audits into all Food/ Employment schemes. Gram Sabhas are entitled to monitor the implementation of the various schemes and have access to relevant information.
  • In view of the grievance that the identification of BPL families is not being done properly the central... and the state governments are directed to clarify the issue and work out a policy for...The respondents shall ensure that rations shops remain open throughout the months during fixed hours the details of which will be displayed on the notice board.
  • Dr N C Saxena and Mr S R Sankaran are appointed as commissioners of the Court to redress complaints that have not been resolved by the Collectors and the Chief Secretary. They can take the help of NGOs and individuals to help them monitor the implementation of the court's orders.