The Supreme Court on yesterday (July 14) issued notice on a plea seeking maternity benefits for lactating mothers under the National Food Security Act 2013.
The bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna was hearing a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), seeking a judicial direction to the states and the union territories for disbursal of Rs 6,000 each to lactating mothers and pregnant women with effect from July 5, 2013 in accordance with section 4(b) of the National food Security Act, 2013.
Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioners, submitted that over the years, the funds for the scheme had steadily depleted and the situation at present is such that there is no fund for the scheme. He further submitted that the issue was of a serious nature since the situation has been stark for millions of lactating mothers and pregnant women during the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
The National Food Security Act was enacted to address the problem of hunger faced by millions of poor families, women and children living below the poverty line. However, the petitioners have submitted that the provisions under the Act were not being implemented even after the period assigned for the identification of beneficiaries under the Act is over.
The bench has also directed Union of India to furnish a status report in this regard.
India Legal Bureau