Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Delhi government on a plea seeking directions to provide cooked midday meal or food security allowance to all eligible students amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
A division bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan, while hearing the public interest litigation, issued a notice to the respondents seeking their response and slated the matter for further hearing on June 16.
The PIL, filed by NGO Mahila Ekta Manch through advocate Kamlesh Kumar, sought directions to the respondents to ensure distribution of cooked meal or cash transfer in account of beneficiaries of midday meal scheme.
The plea said that the petitioner NGO was approached by parents of certain school-going children who are also beneficiaries of the midday meal scheme of the Central government being channelised through state governments all over the country.
Midday meal scheme, which aims two vital goals of increasing enrolment of students from the disadvantaged sections of society and food security for poor children, has played a vital role in fighting malnutrition in children aged about 5-15 years.
"When pandemic started making effects in our country, government agencies and medical experts vouched for efforts to boost immunity... However, the Delhi government has stopped distributing hot cooked nutritious meals to eligible students under the midday meal programme," the plea said.
The midday meal program supplies free lunch on working days to children in primary and upper primary classes in government, government-aided, local-body, education guarantee scheme and alternate innovative education centres, Madarsa and Maqtabs supported under Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and National Child Labour School.
"The beneficiaries of the scheme come from economically weaker sections of society. Parents of these children are facing hardship due to the closure of economic activities. These children have been deprived of nutritious food during this difficult time," the plea added.
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