The Supreme Court ruled that the basis for identification of sex workers need not be restricted to the list prepared by the NACO.
On 14.12.2021, the Court directed the State Governments/Union Territories, to issue ration cards/voter identity cards immediately to sex workers on the basis of the list maintained by NACO. The authorities were permitted to take assistance of State AIDS Control Societies, finalizing the list of Sex workers after verifying the information provided to them by Community Based Organisations. The State Governments/Union Territories were directed to submit a Status Report relating to the issuance of ration cards and Voter Cards. In the meanwhile, the State Governments/Union Territories were directed to continue distribution of dry ration to sex workers without insisting on ration cards and any other proof of residence.
Senior Advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the applicant, submitted that a large number of sex workers are left out from the lists that are available with NACO. According to the scheme of NACO, a minimum of 1000 sex workers should be there in a community on the basis of which inclusion will be made in the list prepared by NACO.
Advocate Zoheb Hossain, appearing for UIDAI, submitted that Aadhar Card is issued with basic information. On furnishing the name, age, place of residence and mobile number, Aadhar Card is issued. The documents filed along with the affidavit would show that the proof of residence has to be submitted by the applicant for issuance of Aadhar Card.
The division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai directed the State Governments/Union Territories to complete the process of issuing ration cards/voter cards to all sex workers and report to this Court within a period of two weeks.
The court said that the basis for identification of sex workers need not be restricted to the list prepared by the NACO. The Community Based Organisations shall submit a list of members which shall be verified by the concerned District Legal Service Authority/State AIDS Control society. On such verification, the list shall be forwarded to the competent authorities in the State Governments/Union Territories for issuance of ration cards/voter cards.
The court directed the State authorities to maintain confidentiality as has been stated in the earlier orders passed by the Court.
Case title: Budhadev Karmaskar v/s The State of West Bengal & Ors.
Citation: Criminal Appeal No(s).135/2010