Give dry ration/cooked food to stranded migrant workers: SC | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Determined to prevent re-run of the pitiable situation for migrant workers during Covid lockdowns last year, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the Centre and states to provide dry ration or cooked food to migrant workers “wherever stranded in the country”.
Resorting to ‘continuous mandamus doctrine’ in a suo motu case initiated last year under the caption “Problems and Miseries of Migrant Workers”, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah said, “We direct that migrant workers wherever stranded throughout the country should be provided dry ration under the Atma Nirbhar Scheme or any other scheme is found suitable by the States/Centre.”
It also ordered central and state governments to complete the registration of workers in all unorganised sectors so as to enable them reap the benefits of various social welfare schemes floated by the state and Union governments. The SC also said that like oxygen audit, the governments must draft in suitable audit mechanisms to ensure that the benefits enumerated under socially beneficial schemes reach the needy and the migrant workers.
“It is the responsibility of the States/Union Territories to provide community kitchens for stranded migrant workers, who have lost their employment and are in need of two meals a day. We direct all the States/Union Territories to make operational the community kitchen to the stranded migrant workers wherever they may situate in the country,” the bench ordered.
For an intervenor, advocate Prashant Bhushan sought a direction to the Centre and states to adopt a uniform scheme of cash transfers to migrant workers for ameliorating their conditions and improving a ‘crashed economy’. He said some state governments are sanctioning between Rs 1,000 to 6,000 to only construction workers.
The bench said, “We are of the view that cash transfer is a matter of policy and scheme framed by each State/Union Territory and no direction for cash transfer can be issued by this Court to any category of person unless they are covered by any scheme formulated by the State/Union Territory.” However, the bench asked the governments to file affidavits giving details of the cash transfer schemes.
On registration of workers in unorganised sectors, solicitor general General Tushar Mehta said he would obtain instructions from the ministry of labour and employment regarding preparation of a comprehensive National Database for Unorganised Workers, which was ordered to be initiated by the SC last year.
The bench said, “We are of the view that for accessing of any benefit percolating from any scheme framed by the Centre or the states for the benefit of unorganized workers or migrant workers, their registration is essential, as it shall facilitate the unorganized workers to assess the scheme and reap the benefit.”
The bench said, “Under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008, all States have framed the Rules and some States have also undertaken registration under the aforesaid Acts but no State has given any details as to whether registration under the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 is complete.”
“We are of the view that registration of unorganized Workers should be completed as early as possible and there should be Common National Database for all organised workers situate in different States in the entire country and we are of the view that process which has been initiated by ministry of labour and employment for creating a National Database for unorganised workers should be completed with collaboration and coordination of the States, which may serve registration for extending different schemes by the States and Centre,” it said.
The SC noticed that the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008 has been repealed and replaced by the Code of Social Security Act, 2020. By Section 164 of the Code, several enactments have been repealed including the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 and the Building and other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. In Section 112 of the Code of Social Security, 2020, registration of unorganized workers, gig workers and platform workers is contemplated,” it said.
The bench asked the solicitor general to obtain instruction from the Union government on the steps it proposed to take under the Code. “We also impress upon the central and the state governments to complete the process of registration of organized workers at an early date so that unorganized workers are able to reap the benefit of different schemes of the Centre and the States, which without proper registration and identity card seems to be difficult to implement on the ground,” it sad.
SC asked the Centre to file a detailed affidavit on the progress in work on preparation of a National Database for unorganised workers in coordination with the state governments. “We grant two weeks’ time to the Union of India to file an affidavit with the above regard. We are further of the view that there shall be suitable mechanisms to monitor and supervise whether the benefits of the welfare schemes reach the beneficiaries which may be from grassroot levels to higher authorities with names & places of beneficiaries so that the purposes for such schemes are achieved,” it ordered.
Seeking accountability from the NCR states of Delhi, UP and Haryana, the bench said they must file affidavits detailing the disbursement of dry ration to migrant workers without insisting on ration cards and whether or not they implemented the Atma Nirbhar scheme for migrant workers.

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