New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the state governments including Odisha to provide dry ration to sex workers without asking for identification proof.
A two-judge bench of the apex court comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi ruled that sex workers identified by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and state committees shall be provided free ration.
“We are concerned with points raised in this application. We are concerned that sex workers can’t access dry ration, cash transfers and other facilities due to lack of identity proof,” the bench observed.
The bench also asked the state governments to apprise the court in four weeks of the implementation of its order and the number of sex workers who have been provided ration.
Significantly, the SC was hearing an application filed by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, an NGO, which had highlighted the destitution faced by sex workers on the account of COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioner sought relief measures for over nine lakh female and transgender sex workers across the country.
During the hearing, additional solicitor general RS Suri submitted that in principle, the Centre does not have objection if states provide amenities without insisting on identity proof.
The amicus curiae in the matter, senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, submitted that the existence of schemes under which sex workers can be provided the amenities sought for in this application was not clear. He submitted that the court should monitor the implementation of its order regarding provision of ration without identity proof.
The court has listed the matter for hearing October 28 and asked the state governments to file compliance report by the next hearing.