HC closes PIL on food supply to Anganwadi centres; says objective achieved

The High Court on Friday closed a Public Interest Litigation which was seeking to adopt rational policy by the government for the procurement and distribution of nutritional supply in the Anganwadi centres in Jammu and Kashmir.

A division bench of Chief Justice and Justice Tashi Rabstan closed the PIL after observing that the objective has been fulfilled. “Since the object of the PIL has been achieved, it stands closed,” the bench said after hearing the state’s counsel Feroz Ahmad and advocate Shafaqat Nazir on behalf of the petitioner.

An NGO, Jammu & Kashmir People’s Forum, through its Secretary General M M Shuja had filed the PIL in the High Court seeking directions that a policy should be adopted in line with the Supreme Court directions and Central Vigilance Commission guidelines.

As soon as the petition came up for hearing, deputy advocate general Feroz Ahmad told the court that the government has approved the ‘Decentralized Policy for Procurement of Supplementary Nutrition’ under the Integrated Child Development Scheme.

The said scheme, he said, was adopted to bring transparency, accountability and greater involvement of community in the implementation of the nutrition scheme.

In its status report the government submitted that in compliance of the order issued by the court on 28 November last year, the State Administrative Council approved the new policy decision and vide government order no 44- SW of 2019 on January 29 this year sanction was accorded for decentralized policy for procurement of supplementary nutrition under ICDS.

The government informed the court that the new policy has been framed as per the delegation of powers of Panchayati Raj Institutions under the amended Panchayati Raj Act. “Under the revised policy, supplementary nutrition shall be procured at Halqa Panchayat, Municipal Ward level.”

The court was informed that on the procurement models followed in different States particularly in Kerala, Uttarakhand and Odisha, procurement process under the scheme has been decentralized to the Anganwadi level except for Rice and Wheat which will continue to be procured from Food Corporation of India (FCI) through Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs.

The government submitted that the procurement at Anganwadi level will be made under the supervision of respective Panchayati Raj Institutions as per the delegation of powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions under the amended Panchayati Raj Act.

“The procurement process will be ensured through various Committees including Procurement Committee-Rural, Procurement Committee-Urban and a Recipe Committee, under the chairpersonship of Sarpanch, Municipal Councillor/Corporator and District Programme Officer respectively.”

The court was told that a District Level Monitoring Committee under the District Development Commissioner (DDC) with representatives from line departments will on monthly basis review the progress of implementation of nutrition programme under ICDS and submit report to Mission Director, ICDS, for pointing out any deficiency and giving necessary recommendations for improvement or strengthening of the present policy.