New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Karnataka Chief Secretary to be present in court on Thursday afternoon after rejecting his application for exemption from appearance, as directed by the top court over the failure of 10 states to set up Food Commissions.
On March 22, the top court had directed the Chief Secretaries of Haryana, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, for personal appearance for not setting up the food commissions under the National Food Security Act.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice N.V. Ramana also asked the Chief Secretaries of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh to be present in the court on the next date of hearing.
The court also pulled up Maharashtra for not filling posts of two members belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes on the food panel.
Madhya Pradesh, too, came in for criticism for taking the route of inviting applications through an advertisement for the appointment of the Chairman and members of the state commission.
"Is he devising a new procedure or following a precedent... you will go on devising the procedures," the court observed as it was told that applications were invited to make the whole appointment procedure transparent.
Observing that there are ways of circumventing the law, the court said it was unfortunate that senior officials were doing the same.
"What we feel is, you are not serious. There are ways and means of doing things," the bench said.
The court had summoned the 10 Chief Secretaries while hearing a contempt petition by Swaraj Abhiyan for the failure of their respective states to comply with the apex court order of May 11 and May 13, 2016.
Besides implementation of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the top court by its May 13 order had directed for the setting up of the State Food Commissions for monitoring and reviewing NFSA implementation, as well as appointment of District Grievance Redressal Officers.
The court had said that no household in a drought-affected area will be denied food grain as required under the NFSA merely because they don't have a ration card.
It had ordered for the implementation of the midday meal scheme with provision of egg and milk, compensation for crop loss and restructuring of crop loans.
The Supreme Court by its May 11 order directed for setting up a National Disaster Response Force within six months, creation of National Disaster Mitigation Fund within three months, and formulation of a National Plan for risk assessment and management as well as crisis management in the event of a disaster.