Bombay HC seeks reply from Maharashtra on starvation death

Nagpur (Maharahstra), July 8 (IANS) The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the Maharashtra government to file an affidavit on its non-implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013, following a starvation death in Tiroda, Gondiya, district.

A division bench comprising Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain asked the principal secretary, food and civil supplies department of the state, to file the detailed affidavit within two weeks.

The court orders came on a public interest litigation filed by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari, who alleged the state government’s failure in implementing the food security act led to the starvation death in the backward Gondiya district of the state.

The victim, Lalita S. Rangari, was a Dalit widow, aged 36 and mother of two children, one of whom is visually disabled, allegedly because of starvation.

Terming this as ‘gross negligence’ on the part of the state government, Tiwari in his PIL said that the state government has failed until now to identify the ‘eligible’ and ‘priority’ households under the NFS Act after it came into being on September 10, 2013.

Moreover, the PIL claimed, attempts by the government to reduce the quantity of food grain supply through the public distribution system (PDS) also caused great hardships to the poorest of the poor in the past one year.

“The report of starvation death is shocking…It is a stigma on civilized society and thus is a matter of great concern… This unfortunate incident could have been avoided if the state had performed its obligation under the NFS Act,” the petition pointed out.

Of Maharashtra’s population, 76.32 percent in rural areas and 45.34 in urban areas is required to be covered under the Targeted PDS, he added.

“The NFS Act is a complete code in itself…and gives effect to the right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution of India under Article 21. Till date, the state government has not framed any guidelines to implement it properly and effectively, which led to the starvation death,” Tiwari said.

He demanded directions to the state to implement the NFS Act properly, order a probe into the starvation death and adequate compensation to the deceased woman’s family.

The petition will come up for next hearing on July 22, said the petitioner’s lawyer Vinod Tiwari.

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