SC directs governments to give ration cards to 8 crore migrant workers

  • March 20, 2024

The court ordered all migrant /unorganised workers registered on the eShram portal must be given the ration cards within 2 months


Groundxero | March 20, 2024


In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India today, while hearing a petition (MA 94/2022) in the case ‘Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers’, directed States and Union Territories to provide ration cards to 8 crore migrant /unorganised workers within 2 months. The court says all those workers registered on the eShram portal must be issued ration cards irrespective of quotas set under National Food Security Act (NFSA).


The eShram portal has 28.6 crore workers registrants, out of this only 20.6 crore possess ration cards. In 2023, the court issued directions to the governments to issue ration cards under the Nation food Security Act (NFSA) to the 8 crore workers who are registered on the eShram portal but do not possess ration cards. Today, the bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah noted that unnecessary delays were being caused by putting in impediments such as requiring eKYC all 80 crore ration card holders to be updated before the direction of the SC could be complied with. The bench directed that any exercise of eKYC the central government may undertake can happen contemporaneously and that must not come in the way of issuance of ration cards to all the workers registered on the eShram portal.


It was pointed out by Prashant Bhusan and Cheryl D’Souza, who were representing the petitioners in the matter, that the coverage of persons getting ration cards under the NFSA be determined on the basis of the latest census data. They pointed out that since the 2021 census work has not been undertaken by the Union government, the coverage still continues to be on the basis of the 2011 census, even though the population has increased considerably since then, thereby leading to about 10 crore persons being excluded from the food security net. As the coverage has not been increased, most states have exhausted their quota of ration card beneficiaries under the NFSA and are hence unable to issue new ration cards. The SC bench hearing the petition directed that ration cards must be issued to the additional 8 crore workers registered on the eShram portal irrespective of the quotas defined in Section 3 of the NFSA. 


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