SC seeks status report from Centre on grant to pregnant women

4 months ago 30
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NEW DELHI:

The Supreme Court

on Tuesday sought a status report from the

Union government

on implementation of Section 4(b) of the

National Food Security Act, 2013

which mandated an annual grant of Rs 6,000 to each

pregnant

or

lactating woman

to help them in getting nutritious food.
Appearing for petitioner NGO People's Union for Civil Liberties, senior advocate

Colin Gonsalves

said that the Union government initially reduced the grant from Rs 6,000 to Rs 5,000 and now is giving not a single penny in gross violation of NFSA.
A bench headed by CJI S A Bobde asked the Centre to respond to the petitioner's plea, which sought a direction to all states and Union Territories "to pay the

maternity benefit

of not less than Rs.6,000 to all pregnant women and lactating mothers with effect from July 5, 2013 in accordance with Section 4(b) of the NFSA" and sought a status report on this issue.
Section 4 NFSA provided that "Subject to such schemes as may be framed by the Central Government, every pregnant woman and lactating mother shall be entitled to: (a) meal, free of charge, during pregnancy and six months after the child birth, through the local anganwadi, so as to meet the nutritional standards specified in Schedule II; and (b) maternity benefit of not less than rupees six thousand, in such instalments as may be prescribed by the Central Government: Provided that all pregnant women and lactating mothers in regular employment with the Central Government or State Governments or Public Sector Undertakings or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force shall not be entitled to benefits specified in clause (b)."
On April 11, 2017, the Centre had told the SC that "a Scheme has been prepared for implementing Section 4(b) of the National Food Security Act, 2013. He says that the Scheme will be finalized in consultation with various State Governments to ensure full implementation of the Act." The SC had directed the needful to be done within eight weeks. But, thereafter there was no purposeful hearing of the case as the matter got adjourned from time to time.

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