• Supreme Court bench comprising of justices L. Nageswara Rao & Hemant Gupta has directed State Governments to provide dry rations for identified sex workers by National Aids Control Organization (NACO) and state govs. without any insistence of identity proof.
• The State governments were further directed to file an affidavit stipulating the implementation of the instant order for directions along with relevant particulars and the number of sex workers who were benefitted thereon within 4 weeks.
• The Court has also asked Central Gov., to inform within four weeks, whether the financial assistance given to transgenders during pandemic can also be extended to sex workers.
What was the PIL about?
• The PIL was filed on behalf of the Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), the country's oldest sex workers' collective.
• NACO, a branch of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, estimates that there are over 8.68 lakh female sex workers in the country and 62,137 transgender persons in 17 states, out of which 62% are engaged in sex work.
• It was also noted by Sr. Advocate Anand Grover that in reality there existed a huge gap between identification of sex workers so that they are enabled to claim reliefs which are provided for them.
• One of the most important points noted in the petition was the inability of sex workers to obtain ration because they didn’t have any identification such as Adhaar card with them.
• Noting the stigma, stereotype and marginalization that sex workers and transgenders have to face, which has only been heightened due to the ongoing pandemic, the PIL notes that “sex workers have a right to live with dignity under Article 21 of Constitution of India, since they are also human beings and their problems need to be addressed.”
Previous Judgement/Order relating to Sex Work-
• Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal (2011) 11 SCC 538:
The Supreme Court of India has observed that sex workers are entitled to a right to life and must be accorded the protection guaranteed to every citizen. It instructed the State to provide recommendations on therehabilitation of sex workers who wish to leave sex work of their own volition and to provide conducive conditions for sex workers who wish to continue working as sex workers in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.
• Interim Orders, Sex Workers Rehabilitation Case, Supreme Court of India, 16 September 2011, Law Resource India:
A Supreme Court panel recommended that Central government and Election Commission issue voter ID cards, relaxing verification requirements, and state governments and local institutions issue ration cards to sex workers.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ABOUT THIS ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT? HOW DO YOU THINK THE STIGMA AROUND SEX WORK CAN BE TACKLED?