From Francis Coralie Mullin to Swaraj Abhiyan: Adding Multidimensionality to the Conditional Social Right to Food
Global hunger is widely seen as one of the foremost threats to humanity. The Constitutionality of the Right to Food has been a long-standing debate within the Indian Subcontinent as there is no explicit mention of the said right. Through various judicial pronouncements over a relatively long period of time, the right to food has been construed to be constitutionally ingrained. This paper explores the history of the right to food as a fundamental right in India, as per the Constitution. It analyses landmark cases on the right to food and examines the fundamental right to food, in terms of state obligations. Is the impact of the entrenchment of the right to food as a fundamental right, limited only to its symbolic meaning? Or has such right substantively shaped the contours of governmental policies too? What are the remedial interventions that the judiciary has made in view of the constitutional right to food? These are questions that the paper will explore. In this process, the paper will parse various judicial orders on the right to food and identify whether there are justiciable entitlements that presumptively constitute the core of the right. Further, the paper shall also highlight the multidimensionality of the right to food and illustrate that starting with Francis Mullin in the 1980s, to Laxmi Mandal and Swaraj Abhiyan in this decade. The courts have, through the above mentioned judgments, underscored the interrelatedness between the rights to food, health, shelter and right to work.