SC Slaps Fines On 5 States And Delhi For Not Taking Mid-Day Meal Scheme Seriously
Amidst allegations of disappearing foodgrain and lack in data submission, the Supreme Court has slapped a fine on 5 states and the national capital for not ensuring the proper implementation of the mid-day meal scheme.
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The Supreme Court also slapped a Rs 2 lakh fine on Delhi for not providing the requisite information related to implementation of the mid-day meal scheme.
Five states in India along with the capital Delhi just got slapped a fine by the Supreme Court because of their lack in properly overseeing the mid-day meal scheme in government schools.
The SC said the states of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Jammu and Kashmir were "not taking seriously" the implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools.
"The mid-day meal scheme, which is of considerable benefit to the children in the country, is not being taken seriously by several states," said the bench of SC judges.
"Data has not been supplied and there are allegations made by the petitioner about foodgrains disappearing and not reaching the schools and thereby denying the benefit of mid-day meal scheme to children," the bench added.
"We have been trying to get the states to render assistance and to upload all the data so that necessary corrective steps can be taken from time to time. In spite of several of our orders, there has been little or no co-operation from some of the states," it said.
The states now have to pay Rs one lakh each for failing to create an online link along with a chart meant for monitoring the implementation and hygiene of mid-day meal scheme in government-run schools.
Delhi also penalised 2 lakhs
Besides this, a bench of judges headed by Justice Madan B Lokur also slapped a Rs two lakh fine on Delhi for not providing the requisite information related to implementation of the scheme.
The bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta, directed that the costs be deposited with the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee within four weeks.
No action for more than a month even after warning
The states of Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Odisha had said on October 26 that they would comply with the requirements of the mid-day meal scheme and provide necessary online links.
However, the court noted that "more than a month has gone by and there has been absolutely no progress made by these states".
"Since the states have not supplied the necessary links or the details which are required for effective implementation of the scheme, we have been left with no option but to impose costs for this totally unnecessary adjournment and for effectively denying benefits to the children of their states to which they are entitled," the bench said.
J&K counsel says online link not working
The counsel appearing for Jammu and Kashmir said they have already created the online link but it was not working.
"We do not see the value of a link that does not work," the court said and imposed Rs one lakh costs on Jammu and Kashmir.
The bench has posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.
Previous SC directive on implementation of mid-day meal scheme
The apex court had earlier noted that two committees at national and state levels were suggested to be set up to monitor various aspects like maintaining hygiene in the mid-day meal schemes in schools.
The top court had on March 23 last year asked the state governments and union territories to upload the information including the total number of students getting benefit of the mid-day meal scheme within three months on their websites.
What did the petition submitted to the Supreme Court say?
The issue of mid-day meals was brought to the Supreme Court because of a plea filed by NGO 'Antarrashtriya Manav Adhikaar Nigraani Parishad' in 2013 on the issue of mid-day meals.
The PIL has claimed that in over 12 lakh government-run and aided schools across the country, children receive free, cooked lunch every day but "they are constantly exposed to the risk of food poisoning and related health hazards due to a lack of mid-day meal infrastructure and proper monitoring of the scheme".
(Source: IndiaToday Education)
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