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High Court directs Nagaland Govt. to re-open Anganwadi centres

Nagaland News

KOHIMA, JULY 14: The Gauhati High Court (GHC), Kohima Bench, has directed the Nagaland Government as well as the Departments of Social Welfare and Food & Civil Supplies to re-open the services of Anganwadi Centres for the benefit of the entitled people.

The Court’s order came Wednesday after hearing a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India filed in the form of PIL, espousing the cause of lactating mothers and children who are deprived of the required nutrition for the upkeep of their health due to economic conditions, especially during this time when the pandemic has struck the State like any other place in the world.
The PIL was filed by Mhasikhonuo Phinyo, a resident of AG Colony, Kohima, against Nagaland Government, Social Welfare Department, Food and Civil Supplies Department and Government of India before Justice Songkhupchung Serto and Justice S Hukato Swu.
On behalf of the petitioner, Advocate Neiteo Koza submitted that the lactating mother and children, who are from the economically lower strata, have been deprived of their entitlements under the Food Security Act due to the closure of Angawadi centres through which the required food or services were provided to them under the Food Security Act and other schemes of the Central Government.
She further submitted that in view of the pandemic, this section of the society has even more need for nutrition supplement to build up their immune system against the COVID-19 virus therefore the State Government should open the Angawadi centres once again so that the required services which were provided through them may continue to reach the people.

She referred to Sections 4,5,6,7 and 8 of the Food Security Act, which provide for such services to citizens of the country as a matter of right. She also referred to the directive issued by the Supreme Court in the case of Deepika Jagatram Sahani vs Union of India & others reported in (2021) 2 SCC 740 and also the letter of the Joint Secretary (ICDS), Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development, addressed to the Principal Secretaries/Secretaries dealing with Angawadi service in all States and Union Territories to utilize the service of Angawadi workers to provide services at doorsteps of the needy people during this time.
In this, the GHC, Kohima Bench, stated that it appears from the petition and the submission of the learned Counsel that information has been collected widely from all districts of the State and as per such information Angawadi centres have remained closed therefore the services of which the people are entitled to have not been provided for.
Maintaining that the two Counsels appearing for the respondents would need to be given time to file affidavits of the respondents, the Court was of the considered view that such service or needs which are most needed by the people in the economically disadvantaged section of our society should be provided at all cost as per the Food Security Act, the directions of the Supreme Court and the instructions given by the Union Government through the letter of the Joint Secretary, Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Government of India, Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Therefore, the GHC, Kohima Bench, directed the State Government and the two Departments to provide such service or benefits to the people who are entitled to as per their entitlements and their rights under the Food Security Act and in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Court in the case stated above and the instruction given by the Union Government.
“It is common knowledge that the poor have been hit the hardest during this pandemic and they are in need of every help that can be provided. Therefore, it should be the endeavor of everyone responsible to make such services or benefits available at their door steps”, the Court stated.
Fixing the next date of hearing for July 28, the Court asked the Government respondents to file an affidavit of compliance and response to the writ petition.
(Page News Service)