New Delhi [India], February 22 (ANI): Observing that the legality of the policy, and not the wisdom or soundness of the policy, would be the subject of judicial review, the Supreme Court on Thursday said that it can't direct states and union territories to implement the concept of community kitchens and left it open for the authorities to explore such alternative welfare schemes as may be permissible under the NFSA (National Food Security Act).

A bench of justices Bela M Trivedi and Pankaj Mithal said, " Legality of the policy, and not the wisdom or soundness of the policy, would be the subject of judicial review."

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These remarks were made by the top court while disposing of a petition seeking various directions against the States and Union Territories to formulate a scheme to implement the concept of Community Kitchens to combat hunger, malnutrition and starvation and the deaths resulting thereof.

The Supreme Court said that the National Food Security Act with a 'right-based approach' for providing food and nutritional security, is in force and when other welfare schemes under the said Act have also been framed and implemented by the Union of India and the States, to ensure access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity.

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"We do not propose to give any further direction in that regard, the top court acknowledged while deciding the matter," the top court said.

"We have not examined whether the concept of Community Kitchens is a better or wiser alternative available to the States to achieve the object of NFSA, rather we would prefer to leave it open to the States/UTs to explore such alternative welfare schemes as may be permissible under the NFSA," the top court added.

The SC said that it is well settled that the scope of judicial review in examining policy matters is very limited

"The Courts do not and cannot examine the correctness, suitability or appropriateness of a policy, nor can the courts advise the executive on the matters of policy which the executive is entitled to formulate. The Courts cannot direct the States to implement a particular policy or scheme on the grounds that a better, fairer or wiser alternative is available. The legality of the policy, and not the wisdom or soundness of the policy, would be the subject of judicial review." the court said.

"Thus, there is a systematic legal framework provided under the NFSA for the implementation of schemes and programs like Targeted Public Distribution System, Mid-day Meal Scheme, Integrated Child Development Services and Maternity Cash Entitlement along with a Monitoring Mechanism and a Grievance Redressal Mechanism, and the States/UTs having also implemented various other schemes and programmes under the said Act, we do not propose to direct the States/UTs to implement the concept of Community Kitchens as prayed for by the petitioners in the instant petition," the court added.

The bench was dealing with a plea seeking the setting up of Community Kitchen throughout the Country. The plea was filed by one Anun Dhawan through Advocate On Record Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi.

The court on January 18 2022 directed all the State Governments/Union Territories to file an affidavit indicating the incidence of starvation deaths, if any, and malnutrition. (ANI)

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