New Delhi, May 13: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre to release all the outstanding and necessary funds for MNREGA scheme to the States and directed it to pay compensation for delayed wages to the farmers in drought- affected areas. "Government can't hide behind a smokescreen for lack of finances," the court said.
A bench comprising Justices M B Lokur and N V Ramana directed the States to appoint commissioners for effective implementation of provisions of National Food Security Act and strengthening of public distribution system especially in drought-hit areas.
The bench also directed the government to set up Central Employment Guarantee Council as envisaged in the statute and to ensure compensation for crop loss in such areas.
The apex court said that States cannot say they will not follow the law enacted by Parliament and "rule of law binds everyone including the States".
The bench directed that mid-day meal should be continued throughout the summer season in drought-affected areas.
The apex court, however, refused to appoint court commissioners for implementation of the directions given by it, saying it is not disposing of the plea and will hear the matter on August 1.
The apex court pronounced three-part judgement today concerning different issues while the first one was pronounced on May 11.
The court had on May 11 said if the state governments maintain an "ostrich-like attitude" towards disasters like drought then the Centre cannot wash off its hands from the constitutional responsibility as the "buck stops" with it in matters concerning common people. It had passed a slew of directions on the issue of tackling a drought-like situation.
The bench had said that if Centre and state governments fails to respond to a developing crisis or a crisis in the making then the judiciary "can and must" consider issuing appropriate directions but "a Lakshman rekha" must be drawn.