New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday expressed strong disappointment over the non-implementation of the National Food Security Act, 2013.

“How can a state choose to not implement a law passed by the Parliament?" the court asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar after he informed the court that at least nine states and two Union territories have not yet implemented the food security law. States that are yet to roll out the law include Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

“When the law extends to the whole of India, why is Gujarat still considering its implementation? Is the state not a part of India?" the court asked the counsel for Gujarat.

This came during a hearing in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by non-profit Swaraj Abhiyan, seeking the court’s intervention to ensure adequate relief for drought-affected regions.

The food security law places an obligation on the state to provide 5kg of foodgrain per person per month at a subsidized rate of 2-3 per kg. The scheme is expected to cost the government 1.2 trillion in 2015-16.

A bench comprising justices Madan. B. Lokur and R.K. Agarwal said that it is a pity that only 25 states have implemented the Food Security Act, considering the drought situation in the country.

On 18 January, the court had asked the Centre to collate data on deficit rainfall, implementation of National Food Security Act, mid-day meal scheme and the Rural Employment Guarantee Act in 12 drought-affected states.

The 12 drought-affected states, according to Swaraj Abhiyan, are Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha.

Between September and December, all these states (including Rajasthan), except Gujarat, Bihar and Haryana, declared a drought.

The Centre has filed an affidavit stating the status of these social security schemes after holding a meeting of agricultural secretaries of drought-declared states.

Gujarat, Haryana and Bihar have been asked to state their drought declaration mechanism and rainfall data in the state by 10 February.

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