The Karnataka High Court on Monday ordered the state government to provide electricity and ventilators to all Anganwadi centers in need across the state and to build toilets in centers that operate in buildings. government. The instruction must be respected by the end of this year.
A divisional bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Judge Suraj Govindaraj noted, “We direct the state government to ensure that all 14,948 Angwadi centers in the state without electricity are supplied with electricity by December 31, 2021. We direct the state government to ensure that 18,984 centers that are not supplied, even with December 31, 2021. In the case of 3524 centers that are in government buildings, we order that the construction of toilets begin and end by the end of December 31, 2021 For the construction of toilets in the rest of the centers, we are allowing time for the state until June 30, 2022.“
The court issued the provisional instruction during the hearing of a suo-motu petition launched in 2011, mainly dealing with the issue of the implementation of the Integrated Child Development Service (ICDS) program in the state. The court said “The Statute recognizes that anagwandi is a child care and development center established under the central government’s ICDS program. Services provided under section 4, section 5 (1) and section 6 of the Food Safety Act 2013 shall be rendered by angwandi. Therefore, according to the provisions of the Food Safety Law and the ICDS system, the anganwadi should be equipped to provide the following services.“
Then the court noted the services provided by the anganwadi centers and observed,
“Thus, not only is the implementation of the central government’s ICDS program through the anganwadi, but now the anganwadi have been given a very important role under the Food Security Law. The denial of benefits under Articles 4, 5 and 6 of the Food Security Act may constitute a violation of the fundamental rights under Article 21 of women and children who are entitled to benefits under these articles.”
He added “Thus, it follows that it is not only legally but constitutional of the state to set up the unrequired of anganwadi and provide them with infrastructure.“
The state government, in its affidavit, said that out of a total of 65,911 anganwadi centers, 14,948 centers have no electricity. In addition, in the cases of 18,974 centers, even the basic supply of ventilators is not available. He also indicated that 13,690 centers do not have toilets. Of which 3,524 centers are managed in government buildings, where sufficient space is available.
To this the court said “In the affidavit, it is stated that in one year the electricity supply will only be provided to 6,700 centers and that ventilators will be provided to nearly 8,300 centers and that also within a year.“
Moreover, he said “To say the least, the general condition of anganwadis in the state appears to be far from satisfactory.“
He added “The successful and efficient functioning of anganwadi has a direct link with the fulfillment of the state’s obligations under the Food Security Law as well as constitutional obligations. There is no concrete assurance given in the said affidavit as to the outer limit within which 14,948 centers will be supplied with electricity, nor is any outer limit given when 18,974 centers will be equipped with fans. It is reported that out of 13,690, a total of 3,524 centers lack government buildings where space is available for the construction of toilets. However, in paragraph 11, construction of only 1,700 toilets will be undertaken after obtaining approval from the finance department.“
The court ruled “It is not at all necessary to record detailed results to come to the conclusion that unless all centers are equipped with ventilators, electricity and toilets, the anganwadi cannot function effectively.“Following which the court issued the provisional instructions.
Releasing the case for a new hearing on August 4, the court also ordered the state to inform the date of the opening of the anganwadi centers, as they have been closed due to Covid-19.