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If the ICDS scheme is not implemented, the fundamental right to nutritious food of 50 lakhs beneficiaries in Karnataka, particularly of pregnant women, lactating mothers and children, stand violated: Karnataka High Court

The decision that the State government shall make arrangements to implement the ICDS Scheme (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) in the state is upheld by the High Court of Karnataka through the learned bench led by HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE RITU RAJ AWASTHI AND HONOURABLE JUSTICE S R KRISHNA KUMAR in the case of Sangeeta Gadagin v. State Of Karnataka, & C/W Matters (WP 3522/2022).

FACTS OF THE CASE– The state government issued two orders, dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021, in which it revoked the circular dated 02.07.2020 and the notification dated May 5, 2021, both of which related to the provision of high-quality food to ICDS beneficiaries while adhering to nutritional guidelines. They had mandated that Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production Training Centres, which were tasked with preparing and delivering nutritious food to AWCs, must enlist the help of women’s self-help groups that are certified or licenced by the Bureau of Indian Standards in order to maintain food quality.
The counsel for petitioners contended that the orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 are illegal, arbitrary, and in violation of natural justice principles, as well as being contrary to the objectives of the ICDS scheme and the norms, rules, and regulations framed thereunder, as well as the other material on record, and that if the impugned orders are not quashed, the beneficiaries of the ICDS scheme will suffer great prejudice and hardship, and that the impugned orders, which are The state government justified its actions by requesting that the petitions be dismissed because they lacked validity.

The court noted that the ICDS scheme benefits 50 lakh children, pregnant and nursing women.  The Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production Training Centers (MSPTCs) have been formed as a result of a Supreme Court decree.  Thus the court, after going through the records gave the judgement that the impugned decisions dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021, whereby the circular dated 02.07.2020 and Government order dated 05.05.2021 respectively are sought to be withdrawn are illegal, arbitrary, and vitiated and deserve to be invalidated. The court further said that a detailed review of the impugned orders dated 15.05.2021 and 20.05.2021 reveals that they are completely unreasoned, non-speaking, cryptic, laconic, and arbitrary orders that have been passed unconditionally and unilaterally without assigning any reasons or applying any mind, thereby violating and contrary to the principles of natural justice, and the impugned orders deserve to be quashed on this ground as well. The court said that the orders denied the right to nutritious food, particularly to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children whose fundamental rights under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and that the orders were arbitrary and capricious under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Thus, they should be quashed. The court observed that the beneficiaries of the ICDS schemes were already under precarious circumstances and their condition had significantly deteriorated and exacerbated as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, and that the respondents were not justified in passing the orders on this basis as well.

JUDGEMENT– The court, after analyzing the orders, quashed the two orders, holding them to be arbitrary.

JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY- ATIVA GOSWAMI

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