The Right to Food case began with the plight of drought-affected people. Due to unavailability and inaccessibility of food, the group of social activists bring to the attention of the Supreme Court their worsening condition - suffering from chronic hunger leading to starvation deaths. As the case evolved, starvation deaths have become recognised the extreme manifestation of widespread hunger and malnutrition vis-a-vis failure of government measures designed to augment the condition of the poorest of the poor.
The Commissioners of the Supreme Court developed a protocol on investigating cases of starvation deaths reports. The Joint Commission Enquiry (JCE), comprised of the Commissioners’ representative/s and high level officials of a state government, is a body created to investigate starvation deaths allegations. The investigation is done not to establish the cause of deaths reported but to assess the living condition of the most destitute, their access to food and source of income, and government schemes functioning in the area where alleged starvation deaths took place.
Supreme Court Orders Referring to Starvation
- The prevention of hunger and starvation is one of the prime responsibilities of the Government. (Supreme Court Order dated 20 August 2001)
- Starvation deaths would be taken as evidence of the status of the implementation of orders relevant to the Right to Food case. Chief Secretaries may be held responsible for said incident. (Supreme Court Order dated 29 October 2002)
- The Central Government and State Governments are directed to ensure that Antyodaya Anna Yojana is extended to the destitute segment of the population. (Supreme Court Order dated 29 October 2002)