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Monday, 21 December 2020

Mid-day meal scheme should not be teachers' responsibility: Bombay High Court

 Saturday, 1 March 2014 Agency: PTI

In a significant order, the Bombay High 

Court has asked the Maharashtra 

Government not to impose the burden of 

managing mid-day meal scheme for 

students on teachers, calling it "non-

educational work".

Putting such non-teaching responsibility 

on teachers would amount to violation of 

section 27 of the Education Act, a division 

bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka ruled 

on Thursday. Section 27 provides that "no 

teacher shall be deployed for any non-

educational purposes other than the 

decennial population census, disaster 

relief duties or duties relating to elections 

to the local authority or the State 

Legislatures or Parliament, as the case 

may be", the court noted.

The court was hearing a bunch of 

petitions filed by women's organisations 

challenging two Government Resolutions 

regarding implementation of the mid-day 

meal scheme. The court referred to the 

State Government guidelines dated July 

22, 2013 which provide that the 

headmasters or the senior teachers shall 

visit central kitchens (where meals are 

prepared) in urban areas once a month to 

ensure hygiene.

Teachers are supposed to taste the food 

before it is served to the students every 

day. "The said duties entrusted to the 

head masters/teachers have nothing to do 

with education. The scheme may be a 

welfare measure adopted by the state but 

teachers cannot be burdened with non-

educational work," said the judges.

The High Court also directed the state 

Government to create, within a month, an 

independent authority consisting of expert 

agencies for periodical supervision of 

central kitchens in urban areas to ensure 

quality of the food.

However, the court refused to interfere 

with the policy decisions which were a 

part of the Government Resolutions under 

the challenge. "The challenge to the 

Government Resolutions dated 18th June, 

2009 and 2nd February, 2011 has no 

merit and the same is rejected. 

Accordingly, the challenge to the decision 

(notified in the GR) to establish central 

kitchens in urban areas is also rejected," 

the bench ruled. However, we direct the 

state government to ensure that no 

teacher including head master shall be 

deployed for any work in connection with 

the implementation of the mid-day meal 

scheme including the job of visiting the 

central kitchens and the job of tasting the 

food and maintaining a register," the High 

Court said.

The state government has been asked to 

file a compliance report by April. The 

Central Government introduced the mid-

day meal scheme in 1995 for providing 

nutritious food to the school children.

In June 2009, Maharashtra Government 

introduced 'central kitchens' in urban 

areas for supplying cooked food to school 

children. The petitions challenged this, as 

earlier the contract to supply food was 

given to local women's groups.

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