The Delhi High Court has sought responses of the Centre and the AAP government on a plea seeking directions to them to take steps and address issues related to starvation deaths, especially of children, in the national capital and also in other parts of the country.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao issued notice to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Delhi government seeking their stands on the issue raised in the petition which claims malnutrition and deaths due to starvation were more prevalent among slum-dwellers as many of them do not have ration cards to access subsidised food grains.
The court also directed that the Delhi government's departments of Health and Family Welfare, the Social Welfare as well as the Women and Child Development be also made parties to the case.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on February 15, 2019.
The order came on the PIL filed by lawyer Maneesh Pathak who has claimed that often the poor families living in slums do not have ration cards due to lack of address proof and has contended that it should not be a ground for denial of subsidised food to them.
"Making food security conditional (to be given only to a ration card holder) is a violation of the fundamental right to life under the Constitution," the lawyer has said in his petition.
He has referred to the death of three minor girls in July this year who according to their post-mortem report were suffering from extreme malnutrition. He has contended that such cases were on the rise in other states as well.
The plea was initially moved by Pathak in the Supreme Court, which on September 7 asked him to first approach the Delhi High Court.
The petition has sought framing of a policy so that the marginalised section of society receives adequate supply of food and drinking water to ensure that a proper nutritional level is maintained amongst them.
The petition said that this can be achieved by an efficient public distribution system for free delivery of essential food articles to the poor families, including those without ration cards.
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