Lok Sabha

In the most simple terms, Lok Sabha is the lower house of the Indian Parliament. (Also known as the house of the people) As you all know from the training sessions that Lok Sabha has 543 seats in total and the members are selected via the medium of general elections in India. The next general elections are scheduled for the year 2024 and the previous elections were held in the year 2019. The Constitution of India lays down power of the both houses of the Parliament of India. For example, Article 84 of the constitution lays down the qualifications needed for a member to be a parliamentarian. Similarly, the constitution also places some limitations on the powers of the Parliament and specifically Lok Sabha.

Role of Lok Sabha

Another important article of the constitution in this context is the Article 107 of the constitution of India. The aforesaid article lays down the fact that a bill can originate in either of the houses of the Parliament with the exception of financial bills and money bills. The constitution of India lays down that the money bills and financial bills can only originate in the lower house of the parliament or the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha decides on the bill and then votes on the said bill. The passage of the bill takes the same to Rajya Sabha. Although the Rajya Sabha has restricted powers over money bills and financial bills, the upper house can still suggest changes/amendments to the bill on the table. The Rajya Sabha is only given a 14 day time period to return the bill to Lok Sabha.

The Rajya Sabha is allowed to either send back the bill with amendments or without amendments. Regardless, the Lok Sabha will take the final call on the passage of the amendments. If the Lok Sabha decides to accept the recommendations then the bill is voted upon again in the lower house and is deemed to have passed by both houses. If the Lok Sabha decides to reject the amendments then the bill is considered to be passed by the both houses regardless of the rejection.

In a case where the Rajya Sabha does not return the bill in 14 days then the bill is considered to be passed by both houses of the parliament either way. So in totality, the Rajya Sabha has very little say in the matter and the bill will eventually pass at the behest of Lok Sabha. The role of Rajya Sabha is suggestive.

Article 108 provides for a joint sitting of the two houses of Parliament in certain cases. A joint sitting can be convened by the president of India when one house has either rejected a bill passed by the other house, has not taken any action on a bill transmitted to it by the other house for six months, or has disagreed with the amendments proposed by the Lok Sabha on a bill passed by it. Considering that the numerical strength of the Lok Sabha is more than twice that of the Rajya Sabha, the Lok Sabha tends to have a greater influence in a joint sitting of Parliament. A joint session is chaired by the speaker of the Lok Sabha. Also, because the joint session is convened by the president on the advice of the government, which already has a majority in the Lok Sabha, the joint session is usually convened to get bills passed through a Rajya Sabha in which the government has a minority. Joint sessions of Parliament are a rarity, and have been convened three times in the last 71 years, for passage of a specific legislative act, the latest time being in 2002:

● 1961: Dowry Prohibition Act, 1958

● 1978: Banking Services Commission (Repeal) Act, 1977

● 2002: Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002

Lastly, in terms of limitations, the Rajya Sabha does not have the authority to bring a no confidence motion to the floor. Only the Lok Sabha can bring a no confidence motion to the floor of the parliament.

Agenda: Reviewing the Food Security Act, 2013 with emphasis on possible amendments to the same.

Right to food in India

All citizens of India have been guaranteed economic justice in the preamble of the Indian Constitution. Economic justice cannot be attained if its citizens are not provided with two square meals each day. The Indian Constitution recognises the right to food both explicitly and implicitly, providing strong national protection that is possibly more accessible to Indian citizens than comparable safeguards offered by international bodies.

The basic concept of food security globally is to ensure that all people, at all times, should get access to the basic food for their active and healthy life and is characterized by availability, access, utilization and stability of food. Though the Indian Constitution does not have any explicit provision regarding right to food, the fundamental right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include right to live with human dignity, which may include the right to food and other basic necessities.

Even though policies and practices relating to food security existed even before the passing of the act, the act changes the approach of such food security policies from “welfare” based to “Right” based.

The act gives legal validity to upto 75% of rural population and 50% of the urban population to receive subsidised food grains under targeted public distribution system. Therefore, this act covers around two third of the population in India to receive subsidised food grains.

As a step towards women empowerment, the eldest woman of the household of age 18 years or above is mandated to be the head of the household for the purpose of issuing of ration cards under the Act.

The Act is being implemented in all the States/UTs, and on an all India basis, out of maximum coverage of 81.34 crore persons, around 80 crore persons have been covered under NFSA at present for receiving highly subsidized foodgrains. The identification of beneficiaries by States/UTs is a continuous process, which involves exclusion of ineligible/fake/duplicate ration cards and also exclusion on account of death, migration etc. and inclusion on account of birth as also that of genuine left-out households. One of the guiding principles of the Act is its life-cycle approach wherein special provisions have been made for pregnant women and lactating mothers and children in the age group of 6 months to 14 years, by entitling them to receive nutritious meal free of cost through a widespread network of Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) centres, called Anganwadi Centres under ICDS scheme and also through schools under Mid-Day Meal (MDM) scheme. Higher nutritional norms have been prescribed for malnourished children upto 6 years of age. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are further entitled to receive cash maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6,000 to partly compensate for the wage loss during the period of pregnancy and also to supplement nutrition.

In case of non-supply of the entitled quantities of food grains or meals to entitled persons under NFSA, such persons shall be entitled to receive such food security allowance from the concerned State Government to be paid to each person, within such time and manner as may be prescribed by the Central Government. The National Food Security Act (NFSA), came into effect on July 5, 2013. It is clearly stated in the preamble of the Act that its purpose is to ensure access to adequate quantities of high-quality food at reasonable prices for people to live dignified lives, as well as to address issues that are related to or incidental to that goal in order to advance food and nutritional security using the human cycle approach.

The Act provides statutory support for the targeted public distribution system (TPDS). This legislation establishes the right to food as a legal right rather than a general entitlement. It establishes responsibilities for the centre and states, as well as a grievance redressal mechanism to address the non-delivery of entitlements. The following are the important provisions of the Act:

Transformation of welfare benefits into legal entitlements

The most significant provision of the Act is that it establishes a legal right to food. According to Article 42 of t he Indian Constitution, it is the responsibility of the state to improve public health as well as the level of nutrition and living conditions. All of these objectives can be achieved with the provision of the right to food.

Right to receive food grains

The provisions for food security are found in Chapter II of the Act. Following the targeted public distribution system, Section 3 grants eligible household members the right to receive food grains at subsidised prices. The constitutional rights of the people to a minimum level of food security are granted by their legal entitlement to receive food grains. The state, on the other hand, has a duty under this landmark legislation to make sure that eligible individuals can access the grains they are entitled to.

Nutritional support for women and children

The Act also includes provisions for pregnant women, lactating mothers, and children who need nutritional support. According to Section 4 of the Act, the Central Government must provide a free meal through local anganwadis and maternity benefits worth at least INR 6,000 to women who are pregnant and lactating (up to six months after childbirth). In order to address malnutrition among children, any child under the age of 14, including those who are not in school, may approach any feeding facility, such as anganwadi centres or school mid-day meal centres, for a midday meal.

Food Security Allowance

Under Section 8 o f the Act, if a qualified person does not receive the required amounts of food grains or meals, they are entitled to a food security allowance. Each person shall receive this payment from the state government. In January 2015, the central government notified the Food Security Allowance Rules, 2015, which outlined the procedures for calculating and allocating this allowance. In order to determine the amount, the amount of non-supply is multiplied by 1.25 times the minimum support price (MSP) of the relevant foodgrain for that marketing season and the prices listed in Schedule I of the Act. This amount must be paid by the end of the third week of the month following the month in which the food grain was not supplied.

Identification of eligible households by state governments

In accordance with Sections 10(1a) and (1b) of the Act, state governments must, within a year of the implementation of the Act, identify the households that will be covered by the Antyodaya Anna Yojana and priority categories, and they must make the list of those households publicly available.

Reforms in the targeted public distribution system

The central and state governments are required by Section 12 of the Act to gradually undertake necessary reforms of the TPDS, such as:

1. Food grains are delivered to a targeted public distribution system at their doorstep.

2. Implementation of information and communication technologies with the goal of fully computerising TPDS.

3. Transparency of documents.

4. Transferring FPS management from private owners to public bodies such as women’s cooperatives.

5. Diversification of commodity distribution.

6. Making use of Aadhaar to identify beneficiaries.

7. Implementing programmes like cash transfers and food coupons.

Note: The above part was for you to understand the contents of the act and the part below is the part on which the debate will be conducted.

Major issues in implementation

A. Problems in targeting

Under the targeted public distribution system, BPL and APL households were distinguished. BPL households were identified based on household income, whereas households with any assets (such as televisions, fans, two or four-wheeled vehicles, or land) were classified as APL. Despite owning assets, these APL households were food insecure, and the removal of rations exacerbated their situation. The problem of targeting is aggravated by a lack of reliable data. There are no official estimates of household income, and many BPL households are denied BPL cards. Targeting has also exacerbated the availability of fake ration cards.

B. Inadequate storage capacity

The total storage capacity of India in 2017 was 78 8 lakh tonnes. The capacity of the Food Corporation of India was 354 lakh tonnes, while state agencies had a capacity of 424 lakh tonnes. According to the CAG report from 2015, the state’s storage capacity was insufficient for the number of food grains allotted. The report also observed that the Centre’s stock of food grains was higher than the Food Corporation of India’s storage capacity for four years between 2010-2015.

C. Poor infrastructure of Anganwadi centers

The infrastructure of Integrated Child Development Scheme centres is very poor, making it impossible for them to provide essential services. A 2016 study of 36 AWCs in the state of Odisha found that more than 85% lacked a designated building for daily operations. There was also a severe lack of water, toilet, and electricity facilities, as well as a scarcity of play materials in the centres. As a result, there was scepticism about its benefits in the rural community.

D. Corruption

According to the 2015 CAG report, states diverted funds worth Rs. 123.29 crores intended for the mid-day meal scheme. According to the report, under this scheme, food supplies are being diverted, supplies are being cut in half, and there is a lot of waste. In the last three years, the government has received 52 complaints about corruption in the mid-day meal scheme, according to a 2019 MHRD report. Among the states, UP has received the most complaints, with 14, followed by Bihar, which has received seven.


In any organised society, the right to live as a human being is not guaranteed by meeting only his animal needs. It is only secured when he is assured of all opportunities to develop himself and is free of impediments to his growth. Any guarantee of the right to life in any civilised society entails the realisation of an essential right to food. The right to food is primarily the right to feed oneself with dignity, not the right to be fed. As a fundamental human right, the right to food guarantees everyone access to sufficient nutrition as well as the means to enjoy food security over the long term. The right to food imposes legal obligations on states to combat hunger and malnutrition and achieve universal food security.

The National Food Security Act of 2013 is an important step toward establishing a legally enforceable right to food in India. The Act contains several well-intended provisions that have enormous potential for achieving food security for all. The importance of rights-based legislation, such as the National Food Security Act, is that it confers rights and also imposes duties on the state. If well implemented, the NFSA, 2013, will have a significant and demonstrable impact on addressing the problems of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.