In May 2001, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), filed a public interest litigation (PIL) (PUCL vs. Union of India and others, Writ Petition [Civil] 196 of 2001), suit with the Supreme Court, arguing that several federal institutions and local state government should, inter alia, be responsible for mass malnutrition among the people living in the states concerned.
In one of its interim orders relating to the case, the Supreme Court affirmed that where people are unable to feed themselves adequately, Governments have an obligation to provide for them, ensuring, at the very least, that they are not exposed to malnourishment, starvation and other related problems.
On 28 November 2001, the Supreme Court passed an interim order that provides for the conversion of eight food security schemes into entitlements (rights) of the poor. These include the Antyodaya Anna Yojna (food for the poorest of the poor scheme), the National Old-Age Pension Scheme, the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) programme, the National Mid-day Meals Programme (NMMP), the Annapurna scheme (food scheme for those above the age of 65) and several employment schemes providing food for work. Of the eight schemes, the most significant is the order directing all state governments to provide cooked mid-day meals in all government schools in at least half of each state's districts by January 2002.
In May 2003, the Supreme Court had directed the Union and state governments to take specific measures to address the desperate crisis of food for drought-affected communities. The Court has also appointed two Commissioners (Dr. N.C.Saxena and Mr. Sankaran) to monitor its orders. The Commissioners are empowered to enquire about any violations of these orders and to demand redressal from the governments, with the full authority of the
Report – Two-days workshop on Right to Food
17 and 18 September 2005, Nagpur