Jawans get demoralised due to negative publicity on food: HC

New Delhi: Issues of poor quality food being served to the armed forces when raised on social media lower the morale of the jawans who protect the country, the Delhi High Court today said.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Anu Malhotra also said that such issues worry the families of the soldiers and give a wrong message to the society at large.

“Even the recruitment to the force suffers, which is the need of India to secure the borders of our nation,” it said.

It, however, also observed that the forces at the forward locations, near the border areas, are performing their duty in extreme weather conditions and “if they are provided better food, which the government was making available, they will also feel safe”.

The observations by the bench came while dismissing a PIL alleging that poor quality food was being served to the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel posted along the LoC.

The bench said the petitioner, who filed the PIL, had made “sweeping allegations” in his plea without making any effort to produce material to support his claims, which itself is a “irresponsible behaviour”, who even did not turn up today in the court.

The court expressed this view after the Centre contended that the allegation of BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav on social media that poor quality food was being served to troopers posted along the LoC was “false” as no complaint was ever made in this regard.

The PIL was filed by Puran Chand Arya, who took voluntary retirement after serving in the CRPF for 22 years.
He faced the ire of the bench as he and his lawyer, Abhishek Chaudhary were not present today in the court which also said that such petitions should not be entertained.

Arya in his plea, had sought directions to the Home Ministry to submit a status report on the quality of food supplied to all paramilitary forces in the country.

Brushing aside the allegations levelled by Tej Bahadur Yadav in his video, the BSF had said a “very transparent system” was in place to ensure quality diet for the troopers.

On January 9, Yadav, now sacked from service, posted a video on Facebook which showed a meal box comprising a burnt chapati and watery soup-like dal which he said had only turmeric and salt.

He had claimed that this was what jawans were served as meal on duty and said they often went to bed on empty stomach.

Citing fundamental rights to equality (Article 14) and life (Article 21), the PIL had alleged that insufficient and bad quality of food was being provided to jawans.

It had sought action on the incident so that the morale of the force was not affected, besides demanding clarity on ration procurement, food preparation and servings to various categories of officers.

The BSF, however, had countered the petitioner’s claim of corruption saying there were committees to deal with purchase of food items and even inspect it after it is cooked.

The BSF had said it was “making all efforts to ensure transparent and effective measures for the procurement as well as distribution of healthy diet to all its personnel”.

It said food was cooked and distributed in BSF messes under the supervision of mess commander who is selected by troops from among the dining members through monthly mess meetings held on the 25th of each month under the supervision of the Company Commander.