The Delhi government had on June 30 told the bench that funds for providing mid-day meals to children in its schools was yet to be received.
The Centre informed the Delhi High Court on Monday that it has released over Rs 27 crore to the AAP government as recurring central assistance under the mid-day meal (MDM) scheme. It informed a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan that Rs 27,17,76,000 has been released as central assistance for financial year 2020-21.
The counsel appearing for the Centre said Rs 9 crore was released on April 29 and over Rs 18 crore was released on May 1 and sought time to file an affidavit on it. The submissions were made in response to the court’s query on June 30 as to when the Centre transferred the money for mid-day meal, for which months and when did Delhi government receive the funds. The Delhi government counsel also sought time to file a reply.
The bench noted that despite its order of June 30, no replies have been filed and gave the Centre and Delhi government a “last chance” to file their affidavits and listed the matter for hearing on August 7. The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Mahila Ekta Manch which has sought directions to the Delhi government to provide cooked midday meals or food security allowances to eligible children during the COVID-19 lockdown when schools in the national capital are shut.
The petitioner said the purpose was to boost the immunity of poor children during the pandemic. The Delhi government had on June 30 told the bench that funds for providing mid-day meals to children in its schools was yet to be received. To this, the court had remarked that it was not right to make children wait for midday meals for months and that they should not be made to suffer for want of funds.