States, UTs get another three months for providing ration cards to migrant labourers
The Supreme Court on Thursday granted another three months to all States and Union Territories to provide rations cards to migrant labourers
The Supreme Court on Thursday granted another three months to all States and Union Territories to provide rations cards to migrant labourers registered on the e-shram portal for availing benefits of "benevolent schemes" of the government.
A bench of Justices MR Shah and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said granting of ration cards to migrant labourers registered on the portal of the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment be given wide publicity so that they can avail benefits under the National Food Security Act (NFSA).
The top court's order came on an application filed by petitioners Anjali Bhardwaj, Harsh Mander and Jagdeep Chhokkar who had sought that ration to the migrant labourers be given irrespective of the quota of ration under the NFSA. On April 17, the top court had said the Centre and state governments cannot deny ration cards to migrant workers solely on the ground that population ratio under the NFSA has not been properly maintained.
Observing that every citizen should benefit from welfare schemes, the top court had said in a welfare state it is the duty of the government to reach out to people.
"We are not saying that the government has failed to perform its duty or there is any negligence. Still, assuming that some persons are left out, the central and state governments should see they get ration cards.
"No central or state government can deny ration cards solely on the ground that the population ratio under NFSA is not properly maintained," the top court had said.
The top court said it is for the government to reach out to the needy and sometimes in a welfare state a "well must go to the thirsty".
The Centre has submitted that 28.86 crore workers have registered on the e-Shram portal meant for unorganised sector workers like construction workers, migrant labourers, street vendors and domestic helps.
It had said, "Data sharing is happening among 24 states and their labour departments. Preliminary data mapping has been carried out. About 20 crore people are beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act, who are registered on the portal. NFSA is a joint effort by the Centre and the states." Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for three activists- Bharadwaj, Mander, and Chhokar- has raised the issue of ration cards and said the majority of the workers are deprived of ration despite being registered on the portal as they don't have ration cards.
Bhushan had said NFSA covers up to 75 per cent of the rural population and 50 per cent of the urban population under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).
However, this number is based on the census of 2011, he added.
The apex court had reserved its order in the matter after hearing the parties.
The top court had earlier said migrant workers play a very vital role in building the nation and their rights cannot be ignored.
It had also asked the Centre to devise a mechanism so that they receive food grains without ration cards.
Earlier, the top court had issued a slew of directions to authorities on a plea of the three activists seeking welfare measures for migrant workers and ordered states and Union Territories (UTs) to frame schemes for providing free dry rations to them till the Covid pandemic lasted and said the Centre will have to allocate additional food grains.
It had also directed states and UTs to register all establishments and license all contractors under the law and ensure that the statutory duty is imposed on the contractors to give particulars of migrant workers.
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