Sunday, February 5, 2023

Supreme Court orders states to provide dry ration to sex workers

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court has directed all states to provide dry ration to sex workers in adequate amounts and uniformly. It asks them to seek help from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and legal services authorities in identifying them for providing succour during the pandemic.

A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi has passed this order.

The Supreme Court has directed States to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) by the NACO and has asked the governments to file compliance reports within four weeks.

Advocate Pukhrambam Ramesh Kumar for Manipur submitted that the NACO has given the data. “We do not have any scheme and we have written to the National Disaster Relief Fund, so that some funds can be provided,” he said. “The NDRF says MHA guidelines do not allow funds to be used for this purpose.”

The bench said: “You’re not the only State with this issue. All North-East States rely upon the Central Government for funds. Write to them.”

“There is a submission made by Manipur that there is a shortage of funds. They are waiting for it. They can make a representation to you so that the funds can be released immediately,” Justice Rao told ASG Suri. To this he replied “let it file the representation and government will look into this.”

The Court had, earlier, directed all states and UTs to provide dry ration to all sex workers, as identified by the National AIDS Control Organisation and district legal authorities, without insisting on ration card or any other identity proof, in the wake of hardships faced by them due to the pandemic. 

The Court was hearing the plea filed by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee, seeking basic necessities and ration to sex workers amid the pandemic situation without insistence in identity proof.

The plea has sought relief for sex workers till the continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic as monthly dry rations, cash transfer to the tune of Rs 5,000 per month, additional cash transfer to the tune of Rs 2,500 for those with school-going children, Covid-19 prevention measures such as masks, soaps, medicines and sanitisers.

The plea has prayed for direct coordination and monitoring of Covid-19 relief efforts at the Centre and State levels through committees comprising representatives of health and social justice/welfare departments, the National Legal Services Authority and the State Legal Services Authorities as well as
Community-Based Organisations.

The plea also sought a direction to the State Labour Departments and the Unorganised Workers Social Security Board to register sex workers and provide the registered sex workers with the social welfare measures that all unorganised workers are entitled to. 

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