Department of Food Supply and Consumer Welfare
Govt. Of Odisha
Sub- Suggestion for Odisha State Food Commission Rules,2016
In response to your advertisement published in Odisha Gazette on dated 25.1.16, We the Civil Society Groups working on Right to Food in the state assembled together in a State-level Consultation meet held in Nehru Yuva Pratisthan, Bhubaneswar on 2.2.16 with the objective to debate and discuss the draft Odisha State Food Commission Rules and make suggestions, if any required for improvement of the Rules.
At the outset, members expressed their discontentment over the long delay of the State Govt. to start the process of framing the Rules for functioning of Odisha State Food Commission and noticed some of the provisions mindlessly drafted without going into details of the provisions of the Act. The State Govt. could have started the process much earlier in order to strengthen Grievance Redressal mechanism at District and State level. The house unanimously resolved to urge Govt. to constitute independent State Food Commission without designating State Information Commission as SFC which is already overburdened with pendency of more than 6000 cases.
However, the members discussed at length various provisions of the Draft Rules and came out unanimously with the following suggestions for its improvement. These are as follows.
1. The draft rules have been framed in exercise of the powers conferred only by clause (f) of sub-section (2) of section 40 of the National Food Security Act 2013. These are incomplete in many respect keeping in view the total Section 40 of the Act. The rest of the clauses (a) to (e) and (g) to (l) of sub-section 2 , of section 40 of the Act on which rules should have been framed have been ignored. If the rules/guidelines already framed on other sub-sections, by means of notification(s) publication(s) , the same should be collected together and placed in the Draft Rules in question for removing confusion and/or avoiding to refer to too many circulars/ notifications/ guidelines.
2. To maintain utmost transparency in selection procedure for appointment of Odisha State Food Commission, there must be provision in Rule-3 of Odisha State Food Commission Rules,2016 to make an advertisement publicly inviting applications from the interested persons or nomination of candidates by anybody for the post of the Chairman or Members of State Food Commission fixing time limit. The procedure for details of scrutinising the applications by the Search Committee, criteria taken up, citing reasons for final selection of candidates and rejection of candidature should be publicly displayed and available under RTI Act. The Search Committee should be little enlarged by taking some eminent members of public say from media, activists, IT professionals , retired judges etc.
3. The provision of Rule-4 of Draft Rules “ The Chairperson and other Members shall hold office for a term of three years from the date on which he enters upon his office “ should be withdrawn, as the section 16 (4) of the Act has already stipulated that the Chairman and every other Member shall hold office for a tem not exceeding five years from the date on which he enters upon his office and shall be eligible for reappointment.
4. The provision of Powers of the State Food Commission under Rule-6 of Draft Rules,2016 should be redrafted and revisited following the provision of functions of the State Food Commission as per section 16 (6) of the Act.
5. The provision i.e., power of the State Food Commission (b) to organise regional camps for building awareness about benefits and entitlements xx x x x x x x xxx should be withdrawn. This should be the function of Nodal Dept. i.e., Food Supply and Consumer Welfare Department.
6. There must be provision in Rule-10 ( procedure for hearing Appeals) that the Commission shall either suo moto or on receipt of complaint from anybody inquire into violation of entitlements under the Act.
7. There must be provision of disposal of complaint cases of emergency nature within 7 days and normal cases within one month.
8. There should be provision that the registration no. of Complaint along with date case should be intimated to the Complainant of receipt of complaint via post or email or mobile message and put in website of the Commission. The procedure adopted by National Human Rights Commission can be taken into account.
9. There should be a Model Format (not compulsory format ) to guide the beneficiaries to the file the complaints along all relevant documents.
10. The decisions of the Commission should be available in Odia . So that the common people can understand the content of the decision.
11. Clear rules should be framed as per clause (h) of sub-section (2) of Section 40 and section 27 of NFS Act regarding Transparency and Accountability.
12. The draft rules are silent on setting up of vigilance committee(sec.29 of the Act) at each level from state to fair price shop level. While framing rules for setting up of vigilance committee at least two members of public should be included in such committees.
The house also disapproved the Project Director, DRDA designated by the State Govt. to function as District Grievance Redressal Officer under NFSA and urged the Govt. to appoint an independent District Grievance Redressal Officer at district level. It is also suggested that the State Govt. should frame rules immediately for functioning of the office of District Grievance Redressal Officer, procedure for receipt of complaints, time limit for disposal of complaints complying the requirement of section 15 of the National Food Security Act.
We will be happy, if your august office can give us opportunity for discussion about the effective functioning of State Food Commission and District Grievance Redressal Officer.
Right to Food Campaign, Odisha
Pragatishila Mahila Sangathan
Convener, Odisha Street Vendors’ Association
Samajik Samata Abhijan
Odisha Pension Parishad
Advocate, Odisha High Court