Supreme Court Orders Prompt Action for Ration Cards to 8 crore Migrant Workers

The Supreme Court has recently ordered that States and Union Territories (UTs) swiftly distribute ration cards to 8 crore migrant workerswithin a two-month period.

This order is a result of the case “In Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Workers.” It is a response to the Court’s observation that its earlier order, given one year ago, has not been carried out. The bench, consisting of Justices Hima Kohli and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, stressed the importance of the issue and instructed the relevant State Governments/Union Territories to promptly issue ration cards to migrant workers who are registered on the eShram portal but have not yet received any ration cards.

The assigned task must be completed within the specified two-month period. In addition, the Court has granted permission to the Central government to proceed with the electronic Know Your Customer (e-KYC) procedure for the cardholders simultaneously. This dual strategy intends to guarantee the effective gathering of data and the distribution of ration cards to undocumented migrants and informal labourers, in accordance with the specified eligibility requirements and processes.

Furthermore, the Court has ordered that States and UTs are required to provide compliance declarations, along with copies provided to the Union of India’s counsel. This is to assist in the collection and updating of the Central government’s endeavours in this matter. This order is an aspect of the Court’s continuing suo motulawsuit pertaining to the well-being of migrant workers, which was launched during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. In April 2023, the Supreme Court had instructed States to guarantee the distribution of ration cards to around 8 crore qualified migratory workers.

This was to be done based on registrations made on a dedicated portal. Nevertheless, as of the last hearing on March 19, almost 8 crore individuals are still without ration cards, despite the Court’s previous directive. The Court’s ruling emphasizes the basic premise that under a welfare state, the government has a responsibility to protect the rights and benefits of its citizens, particularly vulnerable groups like migrant workers.

In light of this consideration, the Court has scheduled a subsequent hearing on July 16, so assuring ongoing supervision and responsibility in this key issue.