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An estimated 10-minute read

A nation betrayed

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Tagore firmly believed that independence from the British, in itself, would be meaningless and merely lead to replacing a foreign oppressor with home-grown ones as long as Indians stayed mired in superstition, ritualism, caste ism and such other ims. This belief made him strongly oppose Gandhi’s philosophy of   “Education can wait, Swaraj cannot” at the cost of being maligned as ‘unpatriotic’. In time, we have come to learn about the basic truth behind Tagore’s fear.

In the year 2001, PUCL moved a writ petition (a PIL) before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to address the issues pertaining to effective implementations of ICDS and midday meals in the country.

On 28 November 2001, the Hon’ble Supreme Court passed, anong others  the following directives with regard to the Mid Day Meal Scheme (MDMS).

·     We direct the State Governments/ Union Territories to implement the Mid-Day Meal Scheme by providing every child in every Government and Government assisted Primary Schools with a prepared mid day meal with a minimum content of 300 calories and 8-12 grams of protein each day of school for a minimum of 200 days. Those Governments providing dry rations instead of cooked meals must within three months [February 28, 2002] start providing cooked meals in all Govt. and Govt. aided Primary Schools in all half the Districts of the State ( in order of poverty ) and must within a further period of three months [May 28, 2002] extend the provision of cooked meals to the remaining parts of the State

·     We direct the Union of India and the FCI to ensure provision of fair average quality grain for the Scheme on time.

·     The States/ Union Territories and the FCI are directed to do joint inspection of food grains. If the food grain is found, on joint inspection, not to be of fair average quality, it will be replaced by the FCI prior to lifting.”

On 2nd May 2003, the Apex Court noted that ‘some States in implementation of the said direction [of 28 November 2001] are supplying cooked mid day meal to the students. We are, however, told that despite the fact that 11/2 years has passed, some of the States have not even made a beginning. Particular reference has been made to States of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.



On 20 April 2004, the same Court observed that by an order dated 29th October, 2002, it was made clear that in case of persistent default in compliance of the orders of this Court, the concerned Chief Secretaries/Administrators of the States/Union Territories shall be held responsible.


It is a matter of anguish that despite lapse of nearly three and half years, the order dated 28th November, 2001 has not been fully implemented by all the States and Union Territories. As already stated earlier, many of the States have given only half-baked information and figures. Further, we wish to make it clear that the fact that some of the States were permitted to at least make a start in some of the districts in terms of the order dated 2nd May, 2003 does not mean that this Court has modified or varied the earlier order dated 28th November, 2001. It is a constitutional duty of every State and Union Territory to implement in letter and spirit the directions contained in the order dated 28th November, 2001.  


Among others , the following directions are noteworthy:

·     The conversion costs for a cooked meal, under no circumstances, shall be recovered from the children or their parents.

·     In appointment of cooks and helpers, preference shall be given to Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

·     In drought affected areas, mid-day meal shall be supplied even during summer vacations.



On 27th April, 2004, the court noted that “from the facts and figures that have been furnished to us, it seems evident that there is a large number of mal-nourished children between the age group of 0 to 6 years…The position is quite alarming.  These young children are the future of the nation.  Further, it appears that except Kerala and Tamil Nadu where the benefit under the scheme is said to be reaching to about 50 per cent of the children, in the rest of the country the average seems to be below 25 per cent.  The position in the States of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal seems to be quite alarming.  


Then again on 7th October, 2004, the court noted


The scheme intends to cover all the children under age group of 0-6 years. The food is supplied to the children through Anganwadi Centres  (For short, `AWCS').  The norms of Government of India provide for one Centre for a population of one thousand (700 in case of tribal area)…according to norms, there should be approxomately 14 lakhs ACWS.  Admittedly, nearly 6 lakh Centres have been sanctioned. Many of the sanctioned Centres are also not operational as is evident from the Report under consideration.  The problem seems to be more acute in States like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand….The result was that a large number of children between the age group of 0-6 years were malnourished.  That Order also noticed that the position was alarming in the aforesaid three States as well as the State of Uttaranchal.  


It is most unfortunate that instead of three months, nearly six months have expired, the Government of India has still not filed the affidavit and instead an oral application has been made by learned Additional Solicitor General for grant of further time to file an affidavit in terms of the Order dated 29.4.2004.We are shocked at the attitude of the Central Government which is in respect of giving nutritious food to all children though in practice it concerns those unfortunate section of the society who can ill-afford to provide nutritious food to the children of the aforesaid age group.  In absence of the affidavit, we could have straightway issued directions for the sanction of the remaining AWCS and for increase of norm of rupee one to rupees two but having regard to the totality of the circumstances, we grant one final opportunity to the Central Government to file affidavit within a period of two weeks whereafter we would consider these two aspects, namely, (i) sanction of 14 lakh AWCS; (ii) increase of norm of rupee one to rupees two.


Further, the Court observed as on that day that the Report presents a glooming picture both in regard to the operation of the sanctioned AWCS in some of the States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and the position in those which are operational….

According to the Report, on an average, 42 paisa as against the norm of rupee one was being allocated per beneficiary per day by the State of Jharkhand.  The position in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh is also no better.  


On 13th December, 2006, the Apex Court passed a judgment, reported in 2007(1) SCC 719, wherein it observed that “it is matter of concern that 15 States and Union Territories have not submitted any affidavit in compliance with the order dated 7.10.2004. They are the State of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Goa, Punjab Manipur, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Mizoram, Haryana, Bihar and the National Capital of Delhi and the Union Terrioty of Lakshadweep. Within four weeks reply shall be filed through the concerned Chief Secretary as to why action for contempt shall not be initiated for the lapse.”



On 9th July, 2007, the Apex court passed another judgment wherein it observed that “It is a matter of concern that even the sanctioned centres (the number of which is much less than the targeted one) have not been made operational. The backlog has to be cleared immediately and the  centres which have been sanctioned upto September 2006  shall be made operational and functional by 15th July, 2007 in  the case of all States except the State of U.P. where the last  date is fixed to be 31st July, 2007. Those centres which have been sanctioned upto January 2007 shall be made functional by 30.9.2007….



It is made clear that if there is any non observance of the time period fixed would be seriously viewed.”



20th November 2007. Another judgment passed. Reported in AIR 2008 SC 495. The Court notes  that considering the submissions and the material

data placed on record we direct as follows:-     


(a)       The Union of India and all the State Governments and the Union Territories shall (i) continue with the NMBS and (ii) ensure that all BPL pregnant women get cash assistance 8- 12 weeks prior to the delivery.   

(b)       The amount shall be Rs.500/- per birth irrespective of number of children and the age of the woman.   

(c)        The Union of India, State Governments and the Union Territories shall file affidavits within 8 weeks from today indicating the total number of births in the State, number of  eligible BPL women who have received the  benefits, number of BPL women who had  home/non-institutional deliveries and have  received the benefit, number of BPL women  who had institutional deliveries and have  received the benefit.

(d)       The total number of resources allocated and utilized for the period 2000-2006.     

(e)        All concerned Governments are directed to regularly advertise the revised scheme so that the intended beneficiaries can become aware of the scheme.

(f)        The Central Government shall ensure that the money earmarked for the scheme is not utilized for any other purpose.  The mere insistence on utilization certificate may not yield the expected result.        

(g)       It shall be the duty of all the concerned to ensure that the benefits of the scheme reach  the intended beneficiaries.  In case it is noticed that there is any diversion of the funds allocated for the scheme, such stringent action as is called for shall be taken against the erring officials responsible for diversion of the funds.


On 22nd April, 2009, The Supreme Court pointed out that several States like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Nagaland have not met the requisite norms. These States are directed to take steps as required to be taken.


The schemes mentioned above have turned out to be scams of such a grave proportion that presumably, it has gone much beyond the best intentions of the Apex Court. Despite direction of the Supreme Court, 1.63 crore children of drought affected areas were not provided nutritional support by the State during summer vacations of 2005 and 2007. 121.98 crores of food grains, meant for mal nourished children, remained with transporting agencies and/or food grain shops.


A reference maybe made to the article of Mr. Himanshu Upadhay which u may read here



While the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether the doctrine of ‘separation of power’ is loosely or strictly  followed in India , while the State of UP, refuses to implement the Right to Education Act citing lack of funds when even when crores continue to spent from the State exchequer at the behest of the Chief Minister to construct symbols of Dalit pride and awakening, a very large part of the genuflecting spine-less purchased helpless tongue wagging scotch connoisseur Intelligentsia genuinely feels but again such expenditure being in the exclusive domain of the government, the Judiciary perhaps may have no authority to interfere.


The bright young legal minds of this country have perhaps watched the cool funk ‘butterfly effect’ and are presumably aware of the grave repercussions of policies (or the lack of it) and how these lead to internal disturbances like the ones we are facing presently.


Obsessed with internships , PROs and a lame fight as to which is the best law school, the opinion of these well fed young people on legal and constitutional questions/issues is almost non existent, on this website atleast.

Can we know what people might think can abate this cancer or do we have no choice whatsoever at all? 




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