NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Tuesday directed all the states to provide dry rations to sex workers, who are identified by National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and legal services authorities, without insisting on any proof of identity.
The apex court asked all the states to file compliance report within four weeks giving details of number of sex workers who got dry ration within this period.
A bench comprising Justices L Nageswara Rao and Ajay Rastogi said that it would later deal with the aspect of whether financial assistance could be provided to them during the period of COVID-19 pandemic.
The top court, which posted the matter for hearing after four weeks, said that states would provide dry rations to sex workers and would identify them with the assistance of NACO, district as well as state legal service authority.
The bench was hearing a plea which has raised the issue problems faced by sex workers on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It asked the states to file a detailed report on how they would provide ration cards and other facilities to sex workers.
"We are aware of the facts that states are coming forward to provide assistance but the problem is that these sex workers don't have any proof of identity. Therefore, all should be given rations. States should tell us how this should be implemented," the bench said.
The counsel appearing for the Centre said it has no objection if states would provide dry ration to sex workers.
Advocate Pijush Kumar Roy, assisting the apex court as an amicus curiae in the matter, said bank accounts of sex workers should also be opened without insisting upon proof of identity in order to provide them financial assistance.
The apex court had last week taken note of problems faced by sex workers on account of COVID-19 pandemic and directed the Centre and states to apprise it about modalities for distribution of monthly dry rations and cash transfer to them without insisting on proof of identity.
Appearing for an NGO, senior advocate Anand Grover had argued that a survey among 1.2 lakh sex workers in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Telangana found that 96 per cent of of them had lost their source of earning in the pandemic.
Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, who has also been appointed as an amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, had said plight of sex workers could be solved if they were provided ration cards without insisting on identity proof.
The apex court was hearing an application filed by NGO, Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee which had moved the top court to highlight the destitution faced by sex workers on the account of COVID-19, and sought relief measures for over nine lakh female and transgender sex workers across the country.