In interim orders dated 8 May 2002
and 2 May 2003
, respectively, the Supreme Court appointed Dr. N.C. Saxena and Mr. S.R. Sankaran as "Commissioners" for the purpose of monitoring the implementation of all orders relating to the right to food (PUCL vs Union of India and others, Writ Petition 196 of 2001). The Commissioners are empowered to enquire about any violations of these orders and to demand redressal, with the full authority of the Supreme Court. They are also expected to report to the court from time to time. (After Mr. Sankaran retired, Mr. Harsh Mander was authorised to assist Dr. N.C. Saxena as "special commissioner".)
Strictly speaking, the Commissioners' work is not part of the Right to Food Campaign. It is an independent structure set up by the Supreme Court. However, given the obvious relevance of the Commissioners' work for the campaign, and the complementarity between the two, some key documents are posted here. Please consult the Supreme Court Commissioners website
for more information.
A summary note
] , which outlines the roles and responsibilities of the commissioners, was prepared for a workshop held at the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, on 9 August 2002.
Reports to the Supreme Court
The fifth report details the status of compliance with court orders in relation to all food related schemes being monitored by the court including the ICDS, MDMS, AAY, Targeted Public Distribution System, employment related schemes and schemes for the elderly such as the NOAPS and the Annapurna scheme. The report has highlighted the fact that exports of food grain continued in the July 2003 - August 2004 period despite the fact that the Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution had agreed with the Commissioners in principle that exports of food grains must not be undertaken. The continuing exports led to a drastic reduction in food stocks available for domestic purposes including welfare schemes. In addition to statistics related to scheme implementation, this report gives details of correspondence between the Commissioners and the Central and State Governments in relation to monitoring implementation of court orders.
The Commissioners presented a follow up report to the one submitted by the Advisor to the Commissioners in West Bengal, to the court on an earlier occasion. It outlines remedial measures that need to be undertaken to alleviate the situation of hunger among the labour in the now shut tea estates of North Bengal. The report stressed on the need for retrospective compensation to be awarded in situations where the state did not assist the needy despite having the necessary resources. It strongly emphasizes the institution of compensations as a form of redressal and administrative accountability.
This special report advises the SC of non-compliance with orders regarding the MDM, ICDS, Antyodaya, Annapoorna and NSAP schemes. It notes that documents relating to food and employment-related schemes are still being denied to the public, and requests the Court to take measures to ensure that information is more readily accessible.
This is a detailed follow-up to the third report, with particular emphasis on urban destitution, migrant labour, and issues of corruption and transparency. It presents field-based evidence from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal on the working of welfare schemes such as the SGRY, TPDS, ICDS and MDMS. [Read summary
This report suggests that progress has been made on several fronts, but asserts that the elimination of chronic hunger does not yet seem to be a priority in policy planning and budget allocations, as reflected in the routine violation of Supreme Court orders by several States. The report includes a comprehensive survey of food-related schemes, but stresses the importance of a legal right to employment in eliminating hunger. [Read summary
This report concentrates on the statewise status of the mid-day meal scheme and the SGRY employment programme. It also reviews the working of other food-related schemes (TPDS, Annapurna, pension schemes). The report identifies various parameters for improvement, and stresses the importance of access to information for greater food security. [Read summary
This report clarifies the Commissioner's role and identifies advisors in various States, stressing the need for a constructive relationship with State Governments. It emphasizes the need to release grain for food-for-work programmes given the current foodstock situation and reports of starvation deaths. [Read summary
Reports based on field visits
The notes below document field visits by the Commissioners and their team. These include discussions with district- and state-level officials as well as visits to villages with local activists. They provide assessments of the main welfare schemes (Annapoorna, Antyodaya, SGRY, TPDS, MDMS, ICDS, NFBS, NMBS, and NOAPS), and suggest ways in which they may be improved.
: Implementation of Poverty Alleviation & Food-based Schemes (Dr. Saxena)
: Review of ICDS Programme in Bihar (Dr. Saxena)
: Review of Food Security Schemes (Dr. Saxena)
: Social Security among Sahariyas in Sheopur district (Shonali Sen and Vivek S.)
: Record of discussions with the Government of Maharashtra (Mr. Sankaran)
: Record of meeting with the Collector, Chandauli district, UP (Dr. Saxena)
: Report on SGRY and Food Security schemes in Barabanki district (Shonali Sen)
: Record of discussions with the Government of West Bengal (Mr. Sankaran)
The Commissioners can be contacted at the following address:
Office of the Commissioners of the Supreme Court:
B102, First Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave, New Delhi 110017
tel: 26851335, 26851339