N.C. Saxena, Harsh Mander told to give report on hunger deaths in Tadmetla, Morapalli and Timapuram

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed its two Commissioners N.C. Saxena and Harsh Mander and the Collector of Dantewada to visit the villages of Tadmetla, Morapalli and Timapuram in Chhattisgarh, where food scarcity and hunger deaths were reported, and to give a report to the court.

A Bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari and Justice Deepak Verma gave this direction during the course of hearing of a petition filed by the People's Union of Civil Liberties relating to the Public Distribution System (PDS).

Earlier, senior counsel Colin Gonsalves brought to the notice of the court media reports on such hunger deaths. However, counsel for Chhattisgarh Atul Jha, submitted that the media report was wrong and it would be premature for the court to take action based on it.

‘What is wrong in that?'

Mr. Justice Bhandari, however, brushed aside the objection and said: “Let the Commissioners go and inspect the villages. It may be totally wrong or right. Let them go and find the status. What is wrong in that?”

According to the media report, these three villages were attacked and burnt down by COBRA and Koya Commanders and Special Police Officers (SPOs) of the Chhattisgarh Police on March 11 and 16. The forces burnt down the houses, granaries, raped women and also killed at least three persons (and two were missing). People and relief material, including food, were being prevented by the Salwa Judum personnel and the SPOs from reaching these villages.

The Bench extended by another six months the tenure of the Justice Wadhwa Committee formed to go into various issues relating to the PDS. It questioned the Centre for limiting the number of below poverty line people in a State to 36 per cent of its population and sought its response. The Bench also expressed concern over large-scale pilferage from the PDS as pointed out by the Wadhwa Committee and said the computerisation of the entire system was urgently needed.

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