The Supreme Court has taken note of problems faced by sex workers on account of COVID-19 pandemic and directed the Centre and state governments to apprise it about modalities for distribution of monthly dry rations and cash transfer to them without insisting on proof of identity.
A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao said the issue raised in the PIL filed by the NGO needs immediate attention. The Additional Solicitor General R S Suri and the counsel appearing for the State Governments are directed to get instructions regarding the modalities for distribution of monthly dry rations and cash transfer to the sex workers without insisting on proof of identity, the bench also comprising Justice Hemant Gupta said.
Appearing for an NGO, senior advocate Anand Grover 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 sex workers had lost their source of earning in the pandemic.
Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan, who has been appointed as Amicus curiae to assist the court in the matter, submitted that the 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.
“Sex workers have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution of India since they are also human beings and their problems need to be addressed,” the Kolkata based group said in its plea. It said that sex workers’ have been left out of the COVID-19 response because of social stigma and marginalisation and are in frantic need of support.