Supreme court: The bench of MR Shah* and Ahsanuddin Amanullah, JJ has directed States/UTs to issue ration cards to the left out migrants on eShram portal within 3 months by giving wide publicity and approaching the migrants through the office of the concerned Collector of the District so that more and more registrants on eShram portal are issued the ration cards and get the benefit of the benevolent schemes floated by the UOI and the State Government including the benefit under the National Food Security Act.
The e-Shram portal was launched on 26-08-2021 by the Ministry of Labour & Employment in technical cooperation with NIC in order to provide support the unorganised/migrant workers by providing them with a Universal Account Number (UAN). So far, against the total target of 38,37,42,394 migrants 28,86,23,993 migrants have already registered their names on eShram portal.
Out of approximately about 28.90 crores registrants on eShram, 20.63 crores are also registered on Ration Card Data. It is pointed that approximately 3.82 crores eShram registrants are also found to be beneficiary under PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi. The benefit of Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Mann-Dhan Yojana (PM-SYM) has been given to the eligible migrants.
However, it was brought to the Court’s notice that approximately more than 10 crores persons are deprived of the benefit of National Food Security Act due to non-issuance of the ration cards which as such is due to the fact that at present census of 2011 is being implemented and that after 2011 population has increased.
The Union of India, on the other hand, submitted before the Court that each State has their own policies for issuance of the ration card and that the concerned State/UT has to take further steps to issue ration card to remaining registrants on eShram.
While the Court appreciated the exercise undertaken by the UOI for registration of the migrants/unorganized workers on eShram portal and registering 28.90 crores migrants/unorganized workers on eShram portal, it noticed that as out of 28.90 registrants on eShram portal, pn;u 20.63 crores are registered on ration card data, the rest registrants on eShram portal are still without ration cards.
“Without the ration card a migrant/unorganized labourer or his family members may be deprived of the benefit of the schemes and may be the benefit under the National Food Security Act.”
Therefore, being a welfare State, the Court observed that it is the duty of the concerned State/UT to see that the remaining registrants on eShram portal, who are still not registered on ration card data and who are not issued the ration cards, they are issued ration cards and the exercise for issuance of ration cards is required to be expediated.
[In re, Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 456, decided on 20-04-2023]
*Judgment authored by Justice MR Shah
Advocates who appeared in this case :
ASG Aishwarya Bhati, AOR Prashant Bhushan.