New Delhi [India], November 28 (ANI): The Supreme Court has directed the Central government to file a detailed affidavit on the steps taken to implement the guidelines issued on the operation of Anganwadi services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan on Friday asked all the state and union territories to file affidavits to show the status and how the guidelines are being implemented.
"The affidavit has been filed on behalf of the Union of India. In the affidavit, it has been stated that the decision has been taken on November 11, 2020, and guidelines issued on the operation of Anganwadi services with operational guidance note for the continuation of services in the context of COVID-19 which has been brought on the record," the bench said in its order.
The bench also took into note the submission of senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the petitioner, that for small children up to six years, neither food nor any education is provided.
"Let the Government of India file a detailed affidavit with regard to implementation of the guidelines dated November 11, 2020. The states may also file an additional affidavit regarding the measures taken with regard to guidelines dated November 11, 2020, issued by the Government of India," it said in the order.
The apex court, which was hearing a plea filed by Maharashtra-based Dipika Jagatram Sahani seeking direction relating to forthwith re-open all Anganwadi centres in the country which were closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, asked the Centre and States to file affidavits in that regard too within two weeks.
The plea, which had claimed that functioning of all Anganwadi centres in the country came to a "sudden halt" and poor pregnant and lactating women and children were "left in the lurch", was posted for further hearing in the week commencing from December 14.
The bench has also sought a direction to the Centre, states and UTs to provide hot cooked meals, take-home rations in consonance with the provisions of the National Food Security Act, 2013 as well as The Supplementary Nutrition (under the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) Rules, 2020.
On being asked by the court whether the Anganwadi workers have gone to homes of beneficiaries and provided meals, counsel appearing for the Centre said that regarding reopening of Anganwadi Ministry of women and child development to take a call after discussion with concerned states so that Anganwadi can be resumed outside containment centre.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati said that the Central government has ensured so that door to door delivery services can go on, such centres can operate coming with health and sanitation protocols.
Gonsalves contended that a wrong picture has been shown. "From March 2020 to date, Anganwadi system is closed. Pregnant women, lactating mothers and children are all suffering. Undernutrition is one of the main causes of morbidity during COVID-19," he added.
Gonsalves said that a starvation kind of situation is prevailing in the country. (ANI)