The Supreme Court has ordered all states and Union Territories to issue ration cards to migrant workers who have registered on the Centre’s eShram portal within three months. The eShram portal was launched for the benefit of migrant workers, and 28.60 crore migrants/unorganised workers have registered on it. However, out of these, only 20.63 crores are registered on ration card data, which means that the rest of the registrants on eShram are still without ration cards. The court praised the effort to register such a large number of workers on the portal but emphasized the importance of ensuring that they have access to essential food supplies through the issuance of ration cards.
The eShram portal is designed to assist unorganized/migrant workers by granting them a Universal Account Number (UAN). However, the court pointed out that if a migrant worker or their family members do not possess a ration card, they may be ineligible for benefits under the National Food Security Act.
As a welfare state, the concerned State/UT has a responsibility to ensure that all remaining registrants on the eShram portal who have not yet been registered on ration card data and have not received ration cards are promptly issued ration cards. The court stated that since the Union of India and the relevant states/UTs possess the data of the registrants on the eShram portal, they should take the initiative to reach out to these individuals and ensure that they receive ration cards and that their names are added to the ration card data.
The Supreme Court has instructed the relevant state or union territory to issue ration cards to those who have registered on the eShram portal but have not received them yet. The court has given a deadline of three months for this exercise, and the concerned authorities should widely publicize it and approach people through the district collector’s office. This will ensure that more and more registrants on the eShram portal receive ration cards and can avail the benefits of the government’s welfare schemes, including those under the National Food Security Act.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who appeared on behalf of activist Anjali Bharadwaj and a group, stated that over 100 million individuals are unable to access the benefits of the National Food Security Act because they have not received their ration cards.
The government had submitted a status report stating that out of the targeted 3.8 billion migrants, 2.9 billion have already registered their names on the eShram portal.
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