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Part III - Welfare Rights and the Environment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 August 2019

Gerald N. Rosenberg
Affiliation:
University of Chicago
Sudhir Krishnaswamy
Affiliation:
Azim Premji University, Bangalore
Shishir Bail
Affiliation:
Azim Premji University, Bangalore
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Summary

This chapter critically evaluates the impact of the Indian Supreme Court's interim orders in the Right to Food case, a Writ Petition seeking better implementation of the Midday Meal Program (the largest school nutritional program in the world). We cite significant and varied empirical and social science evidence demonstrating that the Program expanded significantly – from a quantitative as well as a qualitative standpoint – in the years immediately following the Court's orders. The harder question is whether the expansion in the Program was "caused" by the Court's intervention, or was largely the consequence of changed political circumstances. We argue that while the supportive political environment was undoubtedly a significant factor, the evidence available seems to indicate that the Court played an important role too. These orders helped in improving the scheme in certain specific respects, in bringing sustained media attention to the issue, in entrenching the Program against subsequent shifts in political priorities, and in providing a platform for the broader social movement to coalesce around. The experience suggests that there is room for "qualified hope" as to the ability of courts to help realize socio-economic rights, albeit in certain limited situations and in partnership with other actors.

Type
Chapter
Information
A Qualified Hope
The Indian Supreme Court and Progressive Social Change
, pp. 241 - 292
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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References

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Cases

M. C. Mehta v. Union of India Writ Petition (C) No. 13029 of 1985.Google Scholar
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India AIR 1997 SC 734.Google Scholar
M. C. Mehta v. Union of India AIR 2002 SC 1696.Google Scholar
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S. Jagannath v. Union of India AIR 1997 SC 811.Google Scholar
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Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar & Ors., AIR 1991 SC 420.Google Scholar
Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715.Google Scholar

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