SC pulls up five states for not appointing food commissions

NEW DELHI
26 Apr 2017

The Supreme Court today pulled up the governments of drought-hit states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Karnataka for not appointing state food commissions or making them operational. A bench of Justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana, which had summoned the Chief Secretaries of ten states on the issue, directed that the state food commissions must be appointed as per the provisions of the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The apex court pulled up Madhya Pradesh government for not appointing the members of the commission so far and said the "state is following a new procedure for selecting members by way of advertisements". The bench's observation came when the state's chief secretary said they have issued a notification for appointment of the commission on April 11 and selection of its members through an advertisement. "Under what provisions of law have you issued notification for selection of members of commission? Is it a new procedure Madhya Pradesh has been following or are you following the precedent? Do you issue advertisements for selection of Chief Secretary or other departmental secretaries or for that matter cabinet ministers," the bench asked.The Madhya Pradesh counsel said it was a matter of transparency and once the application from interested candidates are received, these will be sorted by a committee headed by Chief Secretary and then sent to the Chief Minister. To this, the bench observed that it feels that the state was not serious about appointing the commission. "There are ways to circumvent law and it is unfortunate that senior officials are doing this," it said, directing the Chief Secretary to be present on the next date of hearing in July. The order came on a plea filed by NGO Swaraj Abhiyan seeking reliefs for farmers in drought affected states. With regard to Maharashtra, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the state said they had appointed five members of the commission but two members from SC/ST are yet to be appointed. "This is extremely unfortunate that the deprived sections of society are being treated this way. You are not able to find two appropriate persons from the SC/ST community in the entire state," the bench asked and directed Maharashtra Chief Secretary to appear before it again in the next hearing. The apex court also pulled up Bihar government for not appointing two members of the commission, asking whether it thought that food for the people was not important. "You have made appointment of five members. Why have you not made appointment of other two members till now? Do you think people of Bihar do not need food or do you think food for the people of Bihar is not important," the bench said.(PTI)