Supreme Court: Raise coverage under food security Act: Basics Explained

The Supreme Court directed the Centre to come out with a solution so that benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) are not restricted in accordance with the Census 2011. And, more and more needy persons get the benefits under the Act. Keeping in mind that the Right to Food is a fundamental right available under Article 21 of the Constitution, in 2021, the apex court directed the Centre to re-determine coverage in accordance with Section 9 of the NFSA. The enactment of the National Food Security Act, (NFSA) 2013 on July 5, 2013, marks a paradigm shift in the approach to food security from welfare to a rights-based approach. The Act legally entitles up to 75% of the rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidized foodgrains under Targeted Public Distribution System. About two-thirds of the population, therefore, is covered under the Act to receive highly subsidized foodgrains. As a step towards women empowerment, the eldest woman of the household age 18 years or above is mandated to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing ration cards under the Act. The entitlements referred to in Sections 4,5 and Section 6 of the National Food Security Act, 2013 are provided under the Supplementary Nutritional Programme of Anganwadi Services of the Central Government to pregnant women and lactating mothers till six months after child birth, and to every child in the age group of six months to six years. Salient Features of NFSA The public Distribution System (PDS) is now governed by provisions of the National Food Security Act, 2013 (NFSA). The Act provides coverage for nearly 2/3rd of the country’s total population, basis Census 2011 population estimates. 75% of the Rural and 50% of the Urban population is entitled to receive highly subsidized foodgrains under two categories of beneficiaries – Antodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) households and Priority Households (PHH). The Act entitles 35 kg of foodgrains per AAY Household per month, whereas 5 Kg of foodgrain per PHH Person per month. Highly subsidized Central Issue Prices of Re.1, Rs.2, and Rs.3 for Coarse grains, Wheat, and Rice respectively, were kept unchanged till June 2019.         The eldest woman of the beneficiary household (18 years or above) is considered as ‘Head of Family‘ for the purpose of issuing ration cards.





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