The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed States and Union Territories to commence the process of issuing voter ID cards, Aadhaar and ration cards to sex workers across the country.
Observing that fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen irrespective of his/her vocation, the top court said there is a bounden duty on the government to provide basic amenities to the citizens of the country.
"The Union 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 bench ordered.
A bench comprising justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna lamented that its directions a decade ago to provide sex workers with ration cards have not been complied with yet.
"The state governments and UTs were directed to issue ration cards and identity cards to sex workers almost a decade back and there is no reason as to why such directions are not implemented till now," the bench said.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by NGO 'Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee', which has highlighted the destitution faced by sex workers on account of COVID-19, and sought relief measures for them across India.
The bench further directed that authorities can take assistance National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and state AIDS control societies to prepare a list of sex workers.
The state governments and UTS have been directed to file the status report related to issuance of ration cards, voter ID cards and Aadhaar cards to the sex workers in a period of four weeks from today.
It also asked the government to keep the names and identity of sex workers confidential while preparing the various ID cards.
Meanwhile, the top court also ordered to continue distribution of dry ration to sex workers without insisting on ration cards and other proofs of identity as mentioned in earlier orders.
Earlier, the apex court, on September 29, 2020, had directed the Union government and others to provide dry ration to the sex workers without insisting on their identity proof.