“Can we afford to take that as a correct statement?” a bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana asked.

File photo of the Supreme CourtFile photo
news Court Wednesday, January 19, 2022 - 08:44

The Supreme Court on Tuesday, January 18, took strong note of the Union government's statement that no states have reported deaths due to starvation, quipping whether it be taken as a correct statement. The observations came while hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in which the bench headed by Chief Justice NV Ramana asked the Union government to prepare a model to implement the Community Kitchen scheme across the country and for providing additional food grains to states to run it.

During the hearing, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Union government, said that not a single state has shown data for starvation deaths. "Are you making a statement that there are no starvation deaths in the country now...Can we afford to take that as a correct statement,'' said the bench which also comprised justices AS Bopanna and Hima Kohli.

It said the government cannot look at the issue of starvation deaths from the prism of what happened five years ago. Venugopal said that so far as malnutrition is concerned, it cannot be denied, and moreover, there was a newspaper report where a five-year-old in Tamil Nadu was suspected to have died due to starvation as no food was found in his intestine in the post mortem report.

"You can't be looking at it from the prism of what happened five years ago. Are you willing to say, today in this country there are no starvation deaths, except for one from Tamil Nadu, that is also because it is reported in some newspapers. Can we afford to take that as a correct statement?" the bench asked.

The law officer said that this is what has been told by the states and the court, if desired, seek the details from states on starvation deaths, if any. The bench was hearing a PIL seeking directions to the Union government, states, and Union Territories (UTs) to formulate a scheme for community kitchens to combat hunger and malnutrition.

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