Supreme Court directs States, UTs to provide dry ration to sex workers without insisting on ration cards

  • Aishwarya Iyer
  • 02:21 PM, 02 Dec 2021

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the State Governments and Union Territories to comply with its earlier order dated October 28, 2020 and to ensure distribution of minimum quantity of dry ration to sex workers who have been identified by NACO, without insisting on ration cards.

"Right to food has been recognized as a human right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Though, there is some improvement in the situation caused by Covid-19 pandemic, we are of the view that the constitutional obligation on the State Governments and Union Territories to provide basic amenities to the citizens of this Court takes into its fold that the sex workers are entitled for being provided dry ration.", remarked a bench of Justices L Nageshwar Rao and BR Gavai.

In 2011, a Committee was constituted by the Court to submit its recommendations for rehabilitation of sex workers, which after detailed deliberations with all stakeholders submitted a comprehensive report.

Additional Solicitor General RS Suri, on February 27, 2020 had informed the Court that a group of Ministers had been constituted to examine the draft legislation.

The top court had then directed the State Governments and UTs to ensure distribution of minimum quantity of dry ration to sex workers.

Furthermore, the governments were directed to take the assistance of  State Legal Services Authorities for identifying all genuine sex workers who would be entitled for dry ration.

The Court was told by Senior Advocate Anand Grover that except in the States of West Bengal and Maharashtra, the directions issued by this Court have not been fully complied with.

Amicus Curiae Jayant Bhushan had further told the court that the response on behalf of certain State Governments showed that ration cards are insisted upon for distribution of dry ration.

A few states had also brought to the court's notice that there were no schemes under which dry ration can be given to the sex workers.

To this, the Court said that identification of sex workers from the data provided by NACO and the District Legal Services Authority would be sufficient for them to claim distribution of dry ration.

Accordingly, the governments  have been directed to comply with the courts order and submit a status report before December 10, 2021.

The matter will now be taken up on December 14.

Cause Title: BUDHADEV KARMASKAR v THE STATE OF WEST BENGAL & ORS.