Gujarat HC takes suo motu cognisance of mid-day meal survey

The High Court has issued notices to the principal secretary of education department and the commissioner of mid-day meal scheme


The Gujarat High Court on December 18, took suo motu cognisance of a survey conducted by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) and the UNICEF Gujarat, which revealed that among the households which had children enrolled in the Government schools, 85 percent of the parents reported that they were not able to access anything in lieu of the mid-day meals since March, when the schools were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bench of Justice J. B. Pardiwala and Justice Ilesh J. Vora said, “The Indian Express News Service, Ahmedabad, in its article dated December 18, 2020, has reported something very serious, which calls for the immediate attention of the State Government.”

The court also directed the registry to register a writ petition by giving a ‘pucca’ number and issue notice to the Principal Secretary, Education Department and the Commissioner, Mid-day Meal Schemes.

The study conducted by the KMIC-Knowledge Management and Innovations for Change, an IIMA and UNICEF initiative launched in 2015, to understand the accessibility to remote learning and challenges faced by the students and their parents, revealed that about 15 per cent of the parents received rice, wheat and/or pulses in lieu of the mid-day meals.

Further, around 30 percent of the children had not engaged in any formal learning activities since March 2020. This was highest for those attending the private schools (33 per cent), followed by the Government schools (26 per cent), and those attending the private schools through the RTE mandate (22 per cent). The average income of the sample was around Rs.1,190 per month and more than 95 per cent of the households had monthly income less than Rs.4,400.

The court also took note of the alarming rate of dropouts in the State. “The inability to pay the fees has led some parents to consider an alternate option of transfers to other schools or even dropping their children out of the school for the year. This is something very serious,” said the Bench.

Also, only 54 per cent of the families said that they have a functioning television with cable/DTH. Less than 2 per cent had access to a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection and email was used by less than 12 per cent of the families.

In this backdrop the court said, “The attention of the State Government should be immediately drawn to the aforesaid, and in such circumstances, we deem fit to take suo motu cognizance of the above in public interest.”

The matter will now be heard on January 5, 2021.

The order may be read here:


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