Why no affidavit on ration supply for sex workers, Supreme Court asks States

This is serious. It is for their survival, court tells Bengal counsel

The Supreme Court on Monday pulled up States such as West Bengal and poll-bound Uttar Pradesh for not filing affidavits on whether they are giving dry ration to sex workers, especially in the light of the third wave of the pandemic.

“This is serious… This is for their survival,” Justice L. Nageswara Rao addressed the West Bengal government counsel.

The Uttar Pradesh government counsel said a meeting would be held on Monday on the issue. He submitted that Aadhaar and voter ID cards were being distributed and 32,981 workers were being given dry rations.

“We realise that your State is going to elections, but that does not mean you cannot file an affidavit,” Justice Rao, who is heading the Bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai, addressed the U.P. lawyer.

Another State which has not filed an affidavit, Rajasthan, orally submitted that it had identified 12,713 sex workers with the help of NGOs and the State AIDS Control Society. It said the process of providing ration cards to them without insisting on ID proof had started.

The court gave the States two weeks to file separate affidavits.

Previously, the court had directed the States and Union Territories to immediately start the process of issuing voter ID, Aadhaar and ration cards to sex workers across the country. It had declared that every person was entitled to basic rights regardless of his or her vocation.

“The fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen of the country irrespective of his/her vocation. There is a bounden duty on the government to provide basic amenities to the citizens of the country. The Central government, State governments and other authorities are directed to commence the process of issuance of ration cards, voter ID cards and Aadhaar cards immediately,” the court had ordered.

The court had also found that its directions a decade ago to provide sex workers with ration cards was not complied with yet.

It had directed that authorities could take the assistance of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and the State AIDS Control Societies, which would in turn prepare a list of sex workers after verifying the information provided to them by the community-based organisations.

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