“While dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis”, says Supreme Court while taking the Suo Motu Cognizance of Non- Availability of mid-day meals for children.
A bench of Chief Justice S. A. Bobde, Justice B. R. Gavai & Justice Surya Kant issued notice to the Resident Commissioners of all States & Union Territories. The court appoints Senior Advocate Sanjay Hegde as Amicus Curaie in the Case.
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, most of the States have directed closure of Schools. Some of the States have also directed closure of Anganwadis. The mid-day meal scheme under which nutritional food is supplied to the children undertaking education is implemented through various schools in the States. The Anganwadis, in addition to supplying nutritional food, also implement the scheme of providing nutritional food to the lactating and nursing mothers.
Supreme Court observed, “on account of shutdown of the schools and the Anganwadis, the children as well as the lactating and nursing mothers would be deprived of the nutritional food.”
“It is reported, that in some districts, though the schools and Anganwadis have been shut down, the parents have been told to pick up nutritional food for their children from such Centres”, noted Supreme Court.
Supreme Court said, “Non-supply of nutritional food to the children as well as lactating and nursing mothers may lead to large-scale malnourishment. Particularly, the children and the lactating and nursing mothers in rural as well as tribal area are prone to such mal-nourishment. Such mal-nutrition may affect their immunity system and as such, such children and lactating and nursing mothers would be more prone to catch the infection. While dealing with one crisis, the situation may not lead to creation of another crisis.”
“In that view of the matter, it is necessary, that all the States should come out with a uniform policy so as to ensure, that while preventing spread of COVID-19, the schemes for providing nutritional food to the children and nursing and lactating mothers are not adversely affected. We, therefore, issue notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Union of India as well as the Chief Secretaries/Chief Administrators/Administrators of all the States and the Union Territories to put in their response on an affidavit within a period of one week from today”, said Supreme Court
-India Legal Bureau