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National Food Security Act lacks governance

The National Food Security Act came into being in 2013, almost four years have gone by but the authorities and bodies mandated to be set up under the National Food Security Act, 2013 have not yet been made functional in some States. Supreme Court observed that the State Food Commission set up under National Food Security Act,2013 (NFSA)remains jobless and without proper infrastructure because of the state government lacklustre response to the act.

Important observations made by the Apex court:
• Ten states lack vigour for implementation of NFSA which was meant to pull out millions out of hunger.

• The court questioned centre government s approach of passing the buck of implementation of law to state governments. The court while referring to Article 256 of the constitution observed “Government of India cannot plead helplessness in requiring State Governments to implement parliamentary laws”.

• The spirit of co-operative federalism is unique to the Indian democracy wherein both the “Union and the States are co-equals” and urged the executive to bridge the growing gap between the centre and state governments.

• There exists a need to start a “meaningful dialogue” between the Centre and the State governments to save people, especially living in the drought-affected areas from abject poverty the court said. The court was concerned about the remedy of a common man in case Government of India does not issue a direction and the State Government or the Union Territory does not implement a law passed by the Parliament".

“Mere schemes without any implementation are of no use. Similarly, one may ask what use is a law passed by Parliament if State Governments and Union Territories do not implement it at all, let alone implement it in letter and spirit.”

Directions given by the apex court to the centre and state governments:

• Centre government need to frame rules and designate independent officials for a grievance redressal mechanism under the Act within a year.

• states need to set up State Food Commissions and vigilance committees in every state by the end of the year and set up a social audit machinery.

The court expressed its disappointment when the Haryana government said that there was “hardly any work for the State Food Commission”. The court observed that “With such an attitude, it is very unlikely that any progress will ever be made either by the State of Haryana or the State Food Commission in Haryana in the matter of food security.



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