Slamming the Centre for its “unpardonable” lethargy in implementing a 2018 direction to register all unorganised sector workers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Union and state governments to complete registration of all workers by July 31, which will also be the deadline for implementing the one nation-one ration card scheme.
Quoting the 2017-18 National Statistical Organisation survey to peg the number of workers in the unorganised sector at 38 crore, or one-fourth of the country’s population, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and M R Shah said since they were the hardest hit by the pandemic induced economic slowdown, it was the duty of the Centre and states to provide them with dry ration and run community kitchens to ensure that no one went hungry as long as the pandemic continued.
“When unorganised workers are waiting for registration to reap the benefits of various welfare schemes of the Centre and states, the lackadaisical attitude by the ministry of labour and employment is unpardonable. There was urgency in the National Database for Unorganised Workers portal to be finalised looking at the pandemic and dire need of unorganised workers to receive the benefits,” the bench said. “The attitude of the ministry in not completing the module even though directed (by the SC) as early as on August 21, 2018, shows that the ministry is not alive to the plight of migrant workers and the non-action of the ministry is strongly disapproved. We further direct the secretary, ministry of labour and employment, to ensure that the NDUW portal is finalised and implementation of the portal commences on or before July 31,” it ordered. It directed the government to run community kitchens in at as many places as possible.