The Maharashtra government sought more time to file an affidavit on death of tribal children due to malnutrition even as it denied allegations that there was a delay in filing a reply due to lack of coordination between various departments.
“It is not true that there is lack of coordination between various departments because of which the government has not filed an affidavit so far,” said the government pleader, who sought one week’s time to file the state’s say on death of tribal children.
Senior government officers were involved in the exercise of filing the affidavit on the issue, the pleader told a division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade.
The judges allowed the government to file an affidavit after a week and adjourned the matter until December 2.
Hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs) highlighting increase in the number of malnutrition deaths in tribal areas, the court had asked the state to file an affidavit on the budgetary allocation for the welfare of tribals, and how much money was actually being spent.
The Division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade had also sought to know the steps taken by the government to curb the deaths of tribal children due to malnutrition.
The petitions alleged that available funds were not being spent for the purpose they were earmarked for, and a huge amount was being syphoned off.
On an earlier occasion, the court was not satisfied with the government’s response to these allegations and had asked the state authorities to file an affidavit.
The bench had said, “Various orders have been passed by the High Court. We keep passing orders but no progress is made by the state on this issue. Sometimes we feel we are doing this exercise in futility. The kind of sensitivity which is to be shown by Women and Child Welfare department is totally absent. They do not seem to be concerned at all.”
The court had also remarked, “British also ruled India in the past but did not bother to take any interest in welfare of tribals. Even after independence, the same approach has continued.”
“As a last chance we are giving you another opportunity to file an affidavit. Thereafter if we are not satisfied, we will pass an order,” the judges had said.
In the past six months, several malnutrition deaths have been reported from the tribal areas of Palghar district near Mumbai, the court was informed by petitioners.