Working Paper
Rights-based Approach to Development

Lessons from the Right to Food Movement in India

In April 2001 the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) approached the Supreme Court of India arguing that the government has a duty to provide greater relief in the context of mass hunger. The litigation has now become the best known precedent on the right to food internationally. This paper reviews the litigation with a view to understand various strategies used by the litigants to create and enforce far-reaching entitlements in a near legal vacuum on the right to food. This is followed by a discussion on the lessons from this case for a rights-based approach to development at large.