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Issue voter IDs, ration cards to sex workers: Top court to govts

Court says it’s duty of the state to provide basic amenities to the citizens irrespective of vocation
The bench, which included justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna, said the identity cards have to be given to sex workers from the list maintained by the National AIDS Control Organisation.(HT File)
Updated on Dec 15, 2021 03:58 AM IST
By, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Authorities must “immediately” issue ration cards, voter identity cards and Aadhaar numbers to sex workers so that they can receive benefits of social welfare schemes, the Supreme Court directed on Tuesday.

“It is the bounden duty of the state to provide basic amenities to the citizens of this country... fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen irrespective of vocation,” said a bench headed by justice L Nageswara Rao, as it ordered the central and state governments to begin the process of issuing an array of identity documents and numbers to sex workers across the country.

The bench, which included justices BR Gavai and BV Nagarathna, said the identity cards have to be given to sex workers from the list maintained by the National AIDS Control Organisation.

“Authorities can take the assistance of state AIDS control societies, which are directed to prepare a list of sex workers, after verifying the information provided to them by community-based organisations,”stated the court in its order.

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During the proceedings, the top court lamented that although its direction regarding issuance of ration cards and voter IDs was issued in 2011, no progress was made. “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,” rued the bench, citing its previous judgment.

The court also clarified that states shall continue giving dry ration to sex workers without insisting on identity cards.

“In the meanwhile, state governments and UTs are directed to continue distribution of dry ration to sex workers without insisting on ration cards...,” the court said.

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