The Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgment stating it shall be an obligation on the Government in the interest of the poor masses especially pregnant and lactating mothers to get a sufficient amount for their fulfillment and nutrition under the provisions of the National Food Security Act, 2013.
The ruling was passed by the three judges Bench comprising of CJI SA Bobde, learned Justices R.Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna who ordered the Central Government to submit a report on the effective implementation of the Central Government policies to the poor section of society intending to provide a maternity benefit of Rupees six thousand monthly subjecting all lactating mothers and pregnant women in the country.
How the matter did came up?
Observing the fact that the common masses were having a difficult time due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. A common plea was filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), the group plea was presented by learned counsel senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, who contended that the global pandemic has caused multiple lockdowns, leading to a severe loss of employment and finding means of livelihood. Thus, it should be the responsibility of the government to file a report on the situation of the masses and take appropriate steps to extend assistance to financially distressed groups of society especially women of the society. Further, it was argued the matter was pertinent to be considered owing to the fact that India is witnessing a high mortality rate for children and women population of the country.
Conclusion- What was decided?
Consequently, Tushar Mehta the Solicitor General of India has been ordered to submit a report on the details related to the actions taken by the Central Governments to file a status report prescribing particulars of the scheme, its implementation, and efficacy in solving problems faced by such pregnant and lactating mothers.
Also, a notice containing a sole prayer of the instant petition containing the following “Providing directions to all the States and UTs in India to pay the prescribed sum of an amount, not less than rupees 6000/- as per the provisions of National Food Security Act as per that a maternity benefit to all the women that are either pregnant or are lactating mothers from the date of 5.07.13.
Earlier in the year 2015, the SC had granted notices to the Ministries related to Consumer Affairs, Food, and Distribution & Women and Child Development on the basis of such instant Public interest litigation (PIL) filed and had ordered a reply to be submitted for a policy related to the distribution of the food grains to be supplied at a subsidized rate to the common masses through a Public Distribution System and the effective administration of the scheme related to maternity benefits.
It was also argued in the case as per the provisions under the NFS Act could not be affected due to the lapse in the time-limit for the process of recognition of the beneficiaries. Also, it was requested for such direction to all States and UTs to warrant that no such eligible applicant was denied a ration card under the Act.
Thus, the order passed by the Supreme Court is effective to the fact that the global pandemic of COVID-19 has led to massive hardships for the masses.
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