Gauhati High Court: The Division Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, CJ. and Manash Ranjan Pathak, J., took up a petition filed in the nature of PIL; concern raised was the present condition of sex workers in Assam who, according to the petitioner in most cases, were on the verge of starvation, considering the strange and difficult times of the present COVID-19 pandemic, which is now in its second wave.

Counsel for the petitioner, Ms D Ghosh submitted before the Court an order passed by the Supreme Court in Budhadev Karmaskar v. State of West Bengal, Criminal Appeal No. 135 of 2010, dated- 29-09-2020 where certain directions were given regarding relief and aid to be given to sex workers during the present COVID-19 pandemic. The petitioner had moved an impleadment application in compliance of this Court’s order on 27-05-2021 for impleading the Union of India, represented by the Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development as well as National AIDS Control Organization, represented by Secretary, Department of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India, as respondent.

The court allowed the impleadment application.

Mr R.K.D. Choudhury, Assistant Solicitor General of India was given directions to apprise the Court as to how the National AIDS Control Organization through the Assam State AIDS Control Society will give relief to the sex workers in Assam during the present pandemic, and how will the sex workers be identified. Mr R. Dhar, Senior Government Advocate, Assam was also asked to obtain necessary instructions in the matter.

On the urge of the counsel for the petitioner an interim mandamus was issued directing the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar as well as the Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Cachar to immediately provide ration to sex workers and their family members in Cachar who were struggling in the current situation.[Debajit Gupta v. State of Assam, 2021 SCC OnLine Gau 1169, decided on 28-05-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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