In Re Problems And Miseries Of … vs Union Of India & Ors. … on 29 June, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

In Re Problems And Miseries Of … vs Union Of India & Ors. … on 29 June, 2021

Author: Ashok Bhushan

Bench: Ashok Bhushan, Vineet Saran, M.R. Shah

                                                                                Reportable

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                      CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

                           SUO MOTU WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO.6 OF 2020

                      IN RE: PROBLEMS AND MISERIES OF MIGRANT LABOURERS

                                                    With

                                Writ Petition (C) No.916 of 2020

           Bandhua Mukti Morcha                                                …Petitioner

                                                   Versus

           Union of India & Ors.                                           … Respondents


                                            J U D G M E N T

Ashok Bhushan, J.

1. The Worldwide Pandemic COVID-19 engulfed this

country in March, 2020 and continues till date changing

its face from time to time. Different mutations in the

virus have made it dangerous and fatal at times. The

pandemic
Signature Not Verified
had affected each and every person in the
Digitally signed by
MEENAKSHI KOHLI

world including all citizens of this country. The
Date: 2021.06.29
11:05:49 IST
Reason:

pandemic has adversely affected all businesses

1
including the small scale businesses, industries,

markets and smallest of the person.

2. One of the groups, which were severally affected by

the pandemic, was the migrant labouers. When

Nationwide Lockdown was declared on 24.03.2020, after

few days, there was huge exodus of the migrant

labourers from their place of work to their native

places. Two primary reasons which resulted in the

exodus were cessation of employment due to lockdown and

fear of the pandemic. When large number of migrant

labourers started walking on highways on foot, cycles

and other modes of transports without food and facing

several untold miseries, this Court suo motu took

cognizance of the problems and miseries of the migrant

labourers by its order dated 26.05.2020 on which date,

this Suo Motu Writ Petition had been registered. We

had issued the notice to the Union of India and all

States / Union Territories and directed the learned

Solicitor General to assist the Court and by the next

date of hearing bring in the notice of the Court all

2
measures and steps taken by the Government of India and

to be taken in this regard.

3. In pursuance of our order dated 26.05.2020

affidavits were filed. Apart from filing of affidavit

by the Central Government, States/Union Territories,

few persons also filed intervention application in this

writ petition bringing into notice of this Court

several facts, figures and suggested different measures

for ameliorating the conditions of the migrant

labourers. One of the major issues, which, at that

time, was to be tackled by the States and Union

Territories was the transportation of migrant labourers

from their work place to their native places.

4. We had issued certain directions on 28.05.2020 and

thereafter issued further directions on 09.06.2020, in

paragraph 26 of which order, we noticed following:-

“26. As noted above, the State and Union
Territories in their affidavits have referred
to various measures, the orders and
guidelines issued by the Central Government,
the orders issued by the National Executive
Committee under the Disaster Management Act,
2005, policies and decisions taken by the
concerned States. The States and Union
3
Territories claimed to be following all
directions and policies and taking necessary
steps for running the relief camps, shelter
camps, attending the needs of food and water
of the migrants, attending the requirement of
transportation of migrant workers to their
native places. There can be no exception to
the policies and intentions of the State but
what is important is that those on whom
implementation of circulars, policies and
schemes are entrusted are efficiently and
correctly implementing those schemes. Lapses
and short-comings in implementing the schemes
and policies have been highlighted by various
intervenors in their applications and
affidavits. The responsibility of the
States/Union Territories is not only to
referring their policy, measures
contemplated, funds allocated but there has
to be strict vigilance and supervision as to
whether those measures, schemes, benefits
reaches to those to whom they are meant. We
impress on States and Union Territories to
streamline the vigilance and supervision of
actions of their officers and staff and take
appropriate action where required. We also
have no doubt that most of the officers,
staff of administration and police are
discharging their duties with devotion and
hard-work but the lapses have to be taken
note of and remedial action be taken. We
further notice from the materials on record
that police officers of States, para-military
forces wherever deployed are doing
commendable job but some instances of excess
with regard to migrant labourers are also
4
there. The migrant labourers, who were forced
to proceed to their native place, after
cessation of their employment are already
suffering. The Financial difficulty being
with all the migrant labourers invariably
they have to dealt by the police and other
authorities in a humane manner. The concerned
Director General of Police/Police
Commissioner may issue necessary directions
in this regard.”

5. Further eight directions were issued by this Court

by Order dated 09.06.2020, which were to the following

effect:-

“35. We, thus, in addition to directions
already issued by our order dated 28.05.2020
and measures as directed above, issue
following further directions to the Central
Government, all States and Union Territories:

(1) All the States/Union Territories
shall take all necessary steps
regarding identification of
stranded migrant workers in
their State which are willing to
return to their native places
and take steps for their return
journey by train/bus which
process may be completed within
a period of 15 days from today.

(2) In event of any additional
demand, in addition to demand of
171 Shramik trains, as noticed
above, railway shall provide
Shramik trains within a period
5
of 24 hours as submitted by
learned Solicitor General to
facilitate the return journey of
migrant workers.

(3) The Central Government may give
details of all schemes which can
be availed by migrant workers
who have returned to their
native places.

(4) All States and Union Territories
shall also give details of all
schemes which are current in the
State, benefit of which can be
taken by the migrant labourers
including different schemes for
providing employment.

(5) The State shall establish
counselling centres, help desk
at block and district level to
provide all necessary
information regarding schemes of
the Government and to extend
helping hand to migrant
labourers to identify avenues of
employment and benefits which
can be availed by them under the
different schemes.

(6) The details of all migrant
labourers, who have reached
their native places, shall be
maintained with details of their
skill, nature of employment,
earlier place of employment. The
list of migrant labourers shall
be maintained village wise,
block wise and district wise to
facilitate the administration to
6
extend benefit of different
schemes which may be applicable
to such migrant workers.

(7) The counselling centres,
established, as directed above,
shall also provide necessary
information by extending helping
hand to those migrant workers
who have returned to their
native places and who want to
return to their places of
employment.

(8) All concerned States/UTs to
consider withdrawal of
prosecution/complaints under
Section 51 of Disaster
Management Act and other related
offences lodged against the
migrant labourers who alleged to
have violated measures of
Lockdown by moving on roads
during the period of Lockdown
enforced under Disaster
Management Act
, 2005.”

6. In pursuance of our directions dated 09.06.2020,

all States/Union Territories took steps and within a

short period, migrant labourers were transported to

their native places. On 31.07.2020, the matter was

again heard. We, in our order dated 09.06.2020, had

referred to following three enactments:-

7

i) Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of

Employment and Conditions of Service)Act, 1979;

ii) Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment

and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; and

iii) Unorganized Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008.

7. We had directed all the States to file their

response in respect to implementation of the aforesaid

three enactments. On 31.07.2020, we further granted

three weeks’ time to the States to file affidavit in

compliance to order dated 09.06.2020. In pursuance of

our orders dated 09.06.2020 and 31.07.2020, Central

Government, States and Union Territories took various

measures to implement the orders of this Court and to

remedy the grievances of the migrant labourers. The

measures taken by different Governments although could

not fully ameliorate the conditions of the migrant

labourers but brought some solace in the first wave of

pandemic and willing migrant labourers reached their

native places. It has also been submitted that after

few months, large number of migrant labourers again

8
proceeded to their work place in search of employment

since at their native place, they were not able to get

suitable employment to sustain themselves.

8. The Covid-19, which was declared pandemic by World

Health Organisation on 30th January, 2020 continues even

today. The intensity of the pandemic varied from time

to time, after March, 2021, the second wave of pandemic

hit the country and the number of cases started

increasing throughout the country. The different

States including NCT Delhi took different measures

including restrictions, night curfews and lockdown in

April, 2021. There has been the migrant workers

working at several places including NCT Delhi, State of

Maharashtra, State of Gujarat, State of Karnataka, who

again started proceeding to their native places fearing

the same situation which occurred in first nationwide

lockdown, which was imposed in March, 2020. An I.A.

No.58769 of 2021 was filed in the writ petition seeking

directions from the Court specifically praying for

direction to distribute dry ration to migrant workers,

facilitating their transport either by road or by train
9
to their native places and with request to direct for

running of community kitchen for migrant labourers so

that they and their family members could get two meals

a day.

9. On 13.05.2021, we while entertaining the petition

and asking the few States for reply, issued following

interim directions:-

“[2.0] After having heard learned counsel for
the parties we direct the Central Government
as well as the Government of State of NCT of
Delhi, State of U.P. and State of Haryana
(for the Districts included in the NCR) to
file a reply to the application suggesting
means and measures by which they shall
ameliorate miseries of stranded migrant
labourers. We also issue notice on the
application to State of Maharashtra, State of
Gujarat and State of Bihar to file their
reply giving the details of the measures
which they propose to take to ameliorate the
miseries of migrant workers regarding
transportation of stranded migrant workers
and providing dry ration as well as cooked
meals to the stranded migrant workers. In the
meantime, 7 we issue following interim
directions:

(1) Dry ration to migrant workers in
National Capital Region under Atma
Nirbhar Bharat Scheme or any other
scheme be provided by the Union of
10
India, NCT of Delhi, State of U.P.

and State of Haryana utilising the
Public Distribution System prevalent
in each State with effect from May,
2021. While providing dry ration the
authorities of the States shall not
insist on an identity card for those
migrant labourers who do not possess
for the time being and on self-

declaration made by the stranded
migrant labourers dry ration be given
to them.

(2) NCT of Delhi, State of U.P. and
State of Haryana (for the Districts
included in the NCR) shall ensure
that adequate transport is provided
to stranded migrant labourers (in the
National Capital Region) who want to
return to their home. The District
Administration in coordination with
Police Administration may identify
such stranded migrant labourers and
facilitate their transport either by
road transport or train. The Union of
India may also issue necessary
instructions to Ministry of Railways
to take necessary and adequate
measures to cater the need of migrant
labourers.

(3) NCT of Delhi, State of U.P. and
State of Haryana (for the Districts
included in the NCR) shall open
community kitchen at welladvertised
places (in the National Capital

11
Region) for stranded migrant
labourers so that they and their
family members who are stranded could
get two meals a day.”

10. Subsequent to the order dated 13.05.2021, the

matter was again heard by this Court on 24.05.2021 and

in paragraphs 14 and 15, we had made following

directions:-

“14. The Union of India in its letter dated
26.04.2020, which has been brought on record
as Annexure R-14 has also stated that efforts
should be made by States/Union Territories to
encourage migrant NFSA beneficiaries to use
the facility of portability under One Nation
One Ration Card (ONORC) to those migrants.

15. We, thus, direct that migrant workers
wherever stranded throughout the country
should be provided the dry ration under the
Atma Nirbhar Scheme or any other scheme is
found suitable by the States/Centre.”

11. The writ petition again came for hearing before

this Court on 11.06.2021, on which day, after hearing

learned counsel for the parties including learned

counsel for the intervenors, we closed the hearing.

12. We have heard Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor

General for India, Shri Dushyant Dave and Shri Colin

12
Gonsalves, learned senior counsel for applicants. We

have also heard learned counsel for the different

States/Union Territories.

13. According to survey carried out by National

Statistics Office (NSO) in 2017-2018, there are around

38 crores workers engaged in the unorganized sectors.

Thus, the number of persons in the unorganized sector

is more than 1/4th population of the entire country.

These unorganized workers did not have any permanent

source of employment and have engaged themselves in

small time vocations and occupations at various places

away from their native places. Contributions of these

labourers towards different projects, industries, make

considerable additions in the economic development of

the country.

14. Our Constitution enjoins that the ownership and

control of the material resources of the community are

for promoting welfare of the people by securing social

and economic justice to the weaker section so as to

sub-serve the common good to minimize inequalities in

income and endeavour to eliminate inequality in status.
13

15. Both, in the first and the second wave of the

pandemic, migrant workers had been exposed to financial

and other forms of hardships due to their limited

access and claim to the welfare resources offered by

the States/Union Territories. The migrant labourers

are particularly vulnerable to the economic regression.

A Constitution Bench of this Court in National Textile

Workers’ Union and Others Vs. P.R. Ramakrishnan and

Others, (1983) 1 SCC 228 while dealing with the right

of workmen of company had made weighty observations

regarding the nature of labour which is put by the

workers while working in a company. The observations

made by the Constitution Bench are more pertinent in

respect to unorganized workers, who do not even have

consistent and regular employment. Bhagwati, J.

speaking for the majority in paragraph 6 of the

judgment observed:-

“6. …………………………….The workers therefore have a
special place in a socialist pattern of
society. They are no more vendors of toil;

they are not a marketable commodity to be
purchased by the owners of capital. They are

14
producers of wealth as much as capital. They
supply labour without which capital would be
impotent and they are, at the least, equal
partners with capital in the enterprise. Our
Constitution has shown profound concern for
the workers and given them a pride of place
in the new socio-economic order envisaged in
the Preamble and the Directive Principles of
State Policy. The Preamble contains the
profound declaration pregnant with meaning
and hope for millions of peasants and workers
that India shall be a socialist democratic
republic where social and economic justice
will inform all institutions of national life
and there will be equality of status and
opportunity for all and every endeavour shall
be made to promote fraternity ensuring the
dignity of the individual. Everyone is
assured under Article 14 equality before the
law and equal protection of the laws and
implicit in this provision is the guarantee
of equal remuneration for men and women for
same work or work of a similar nature.
…………………………………………….”

16. When the migrant labourers form more than 1/4th

population of the country, all Governments/authorities

have to take special care regarding welfare of these

migrant workers/labourers. The Parliament has enacted

various legislations to safeguard the interest and

15
welfare of the migrant labourers, which we shall notice

hereinafter.

17. The Right to Life as guaranteed by Article 21 of

the Constitution gives right to every human being to

live a life of dignity with access to at-least bare

necessities of life. To provide food security to

impoverished persons is the bounden duty of all States

and Governments. The Parliament with object to provide

food and nutritional security in human life cycle had

enacted the National Food Security Act, 2013. In

paragraph 3 of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of

the Act, following was stated:-

“3. Ensuring food security of the people,
however, continues to be a challenge. The
nutritional status of the population, and
especially of women and children, also needs
to be improved to enhance the quality of
human resource of the country. The proposed
legislation marks a paradigm shift in
addressing the problem of food security—from
the current welfare approach to a right based
approach. Besides expanding coverage of the
Targeted Public Distribution System, the
proposed legislation would confer legal
rights on eligible beneficiaries to receive
entitled quantities of foodgrains at highly
subsidised prices. It will also confer legal
rights on women and children to receive meal
free of charge.”
16

18. Those who have been identified as beneficiary under

National Food Security Act, 2013 are provided dry

rations as per the Centre and States’ Schemes. In

event, a migrant labour is covered under the National

Food Security Act, 2013 and had been issued a ration

card under the Act, he is entitled to access the dry

ration wherever he is, at his work place also, in

accordance with scheme of the Central Government namely

“One Nation One Ration Card”.

19. Before us, in these proceedings, learned counsel

appearing for applicants/intervenors have raised

concerns regarding non-supply of dry ration to large

section of migrant workers, who are not covered under

the National Food Security Act, 2013 and who does not

possess ration card.

20. Both the Central Government and the State

Governments have floated various schemes for

unorganized workers, building and construction workers

but sad picture of the ground reality is that large

number of beneficiaries are deprived from access to

17
these welfare schemes of the Central Government or the

State Governments. In this petition, we had issued

various directions earlier regarding the registration

of unorganized workers but the progress has not been

satisfactory rather shows lethargy on the part of the

concerned Government.

21. From the affidavits, which have been filed by the

States, it is clear that in most of the States, the

stranded migrant labourers, who wanted to go to their

native places during the second wave of the pandemic

have been facilitated by the concerned State Government

as per our directions issued from time to time in this

writ petition. Thus, no further directions are

required in respect to facilitating the transportation

of migrant workers.

22. The main subjects with which we are concerned in

this proceeding are:-

(i) Entitlement of dry ration by migrant workers

who are not covered by the National Food

18
Security Act, 2013 and who does not possess a

ration card;

(ii) The implementation of “One Nation One Ration

Card” by States and Union Territories;

(iii) Coverage of Rural and Urban population under

National Food Security Act, 2013;

(iv) The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation

of Employment and Conditions of Service)Act,

1979, its working and implementation;

(v) The registration of unorganized workers’

(a) under the legislations namely 1996 Act

and 2008 Act and the steps taken by

different State Governments in the above

regard;

(b) The project – National Database for the

Unorganised Workers (NDUW) of Ministry
19
of Labour and Employment, Government of

India; and

(c) The mechanism to ensure access by

migrant labourers to different welfare

schemes of the Central Government and

the State Governments.

(vi) Community Kitchen for Migrant Labourers by

States/Union Territories; and

(vii) Direct Bank Transfer to unorganized workers.

(i)          Dry Ration to Migrant Workers


23.   Shri    Dushyant     Dave      and   Shri    Colin     Gonsalves,

learned      senior    counsel     have    submitted       that   migrant

workers are great sufferers in this pandemic and those

who do not possess any ration card are entitled to dry

ration. It is submitted that the Central Government

itself in the first wave of pandemic has provided dry

ration for two months, i.e., May and June, 2020 under

20
Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme. The submission is that the

Central Government needs to extend the Atma Nirbhar

Bharat Scheme in view of the second wave of the

pandemic. The Union of India has filed affidavits dated

23.05.2020 and 09.06.2021. In the affidavit dated

09.06.2021, in paragraphs 4 and 8, following has been

stated: –

“4. It is further submitted that, the Atma
Nirbhar Bharat Scheme was valid for only May
and June, 2020. However, vide this
Department’s letter dated 20.05.2021
States/UTs, have been advised that they may
use the various other schemes
launched/renewed as detailed above, to get
additional quantities of foodgrains at
subsidized rates, as per the need, from the
FCI, for distribution to selected target
groups including other migrants/stranded
migrants, as per locally assessed
requirements.

8. It is respectfully submitted that, in view
of the situation arising due to spread of
COVID-19 pandemic during last year, under
Atma Nirbhar Bharat Package(ANBP), the
Department of Food and Public Distribution
(DFPD) vide letter dated 15.05.2020 had
liberally allotted about 8 Lakh Metric Tonne
(LMT) of additional food grain (4LMT per
month, i.e. around 10% of monthly NFSA
allocation) covering all the States/UTs for
migrants/stranded migrants @5Kg per person
per month free of cost for a period of two
months(May and June, 2020). It is stated
21
that, both migrants and stranded migrants
were covered under the scheme, subject to the
condition that such migrants/stranded
migrants are neither covered under NFSA nor
have they been issued State Scheme PDS Cards
by the State/UT, in which they were at that
time. However, States/UTs later come out with
approximate requirements for about 2.8 crore
total migrant/stranded migrant population.
The responsibility for identifying such
migrants/stranded migrants was given to the
respective States/UTs…..”

24. Those migrant workers, who possess the ration card

and are covered under the National Food Security Act,

2013 can avail the dry ration utilising their card even

in the State where they have migrated for work. Real

difficulty arises with regard to migrant workers who do

not possess any card issued under National Food

Security Act or even by respective States. There is a

large number of such migrants who do not possess any

card. Their above disability is due to their poverty

and lack of education but the State cannot abdicate its

duty towards such persons, especially in the wake of

the pandemic and the events where large numbers of

migrant workers are not able to get jobs which may

satisfy their basic needs.

22

25. The affidavit of Union of India indicates that

under Atma Nirbhar Bharat Scheme, which was issued by

the Department of Food and Public Distribution,

migrants/stranded migrants were covered and 5 Kg per

person per month free of cost dry ration for a period

of two months was given. It was the States, who

identified about 2.8 crore migrant population in the

first wave of pandemic, which is clearly stated in

paragraph 8 of the affidavit of Union of India as noted

above. When there is identification by the States of

2.8 crore migrants, there is no difficulty for the

State in reaching such migrants and supplying dry

ration to those who may still be at their identified

places. The Union of India in its affidavit has clearly

stated that the Union of India is ready and willing to

provide the additional food grains to the States under

various schemes in event such request is made by the

States/UTs.

23

26. The Union of India submits that there is no lack of

food grains nor the Central Government is shirking from

its responsibility to provide dry ration to migrant

workers. It is submitted by the learned Solicitor

General that identification of such migrant workers and

distribution of dry ration is to be done by respective

States/UTs. He further submits that each State/Union

Territory can devise appropriate schemes for providing

dry ration to migrant workers.

27. Various States have filed their affidavits. From

the affidavits filed by different States, it does

appear that although some States have devised certain

schemes for distribution of dry ration to migrant

workers, most of the States do not have such schemes.

Several States have not mentioned any scheme under

which in the second wave of pandemic any ration has

been distributed to the migrant workers. State of

Gujarat has referred to a scheme namely ‘Annambrahma’

Scheme which scheme has been once again implemented and

as on date is current. However, no details have been
24
given as to how many migrant workers have been provided

dry ration in this second wave of pandemic.

28. It has been stated on behalf of State of NCT Delhi

that a cabinet decision has been taken on 25.05.2021

where it has been stated that dry rations to Non-PDS

be provided at the same entitlement as specified under

National Food Security Act, 2013. A statement has been

made as under:-

“Vide Cabinet Decision No.3004 dated
25.05.2021. it has been decided that Dry
Rations (food grains) under Non-PDS to be
provided at the same entitlement as specified
under NFS Act 2013 which is 5 Kg food grains
(4 Kg wheat and 1 Kg rice per person per
month) free of cost to the needy persons who
don’t possess ration cards, including
unorganized workers, migrant workers,
building and construction workers, domestic
help from a school identified in each
Municipal wards of Delhi. The beneficiary has
to visit the designated schools to collect
this non-PDS ration. This scheme has been
operationalized w.e.f. 5th June, 2021 and is
envisaged for 20 Lakh beneficiaries.”

29. Most of the States have been harping on providing

food grains free of cost for two months, i.e., May and

June, 2020. The State of West Bengal has stated that

25
there is no scheme for providing dry ration to migrant

workers. The States/Union Territories who are

responsible for Public Distribution System and who are

the agency to reach beneficiary have to devise the

scheme to cater the needs of migrant workers and find

out ways and means to reach those migrant workers and

supply the dry ration. Especially during this pandemic,

the States/Union Territories have to make extra efforts

to reach migrant labourers so that no migrant labourer

is denied two meals a day.

30. The Union of India in paragraphs 7 and 8 has

mentioned that Ministry has extended various schemes to

enable all States/UTs to obtain additional quantities

of food grains. The Union of India has also referred to

Circular dated 20.05.2021 issued by Government of

India, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, which states on

the subject “various food security measures announced

during COVID-19, 2021”, in paragraph 3, following has

been stated : –

26
“3. In addition to actively promoting the use
of portability through One nation One Ration
Card (ONORC) for NFSA beneficiaries, it is
advised that States/UTs may also use the
different schemes detailed above to get
additional quantities of food grains, as per
the need, from the FCI, for distribution to
selected target groups including other
migrants/stranded migrants, as per locally
assessed requirements.”

31. As noted above, the Central Government is ready to

allocate additional quantities of food grains to the

States for supplying food grains to migrant workers

after identification. The Central Government may, in

consultation with the States, devise a mechanism to

reach migrant labourers especially in this pandemic so

that dry ration be provided to them.

32. There has been worldwide awareness regarding right

to food to human being. Our country is no exception.

Lately, all Governments have been taking steps and

taking measures to ensure that no human being should be

affected by hunger and no one dies out of hunger. The

basic concept of food security globally is to ensure

that all people, at all times, should get access to the
27
basic food for their active and healthy life. The

Constitution of India does not have any explicit

provision regarding right to food. The fundamental

right to life enshrined in Article 21 of the

Constitution may be interpreted to include right to

live with human dignity, which may include the right to

food and other basic necessities.

33. The Central Government having undertaken to

distribute additional quantity of foodgrains as

demanded by the States/Union Territories for

distribution to migrant labourers under some Scheme

framed by the States, we direct the Central Government,

Department of Food and Public Distribution (Ministry of

Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) to

allocate and distribute foodgrains as per demand of

additional foodgrains from the States for disbursement

of dry foodgrains to migrant labourers.

34. We further direct the States to bring in place an

appropriate scheme for distribution of dry ration to
28
migrant labourers for which it shall be open for States

to ask for allocation of additional foodgrains from the

Central Government, which, as directed above, shall

provide the additional foodgrains to the State. The

State shall consider and bring an appropriate Scheme,

which may be implemented on or before 31.07.2021. Such

scheme may be continued and operated till the current

pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

(ii)       One Nation One Ration Card

35. “One        Nation     One     Ration         Card”        is     a     scheme

implemented by the Government of India providing for

nation-wide portability of National Food Security Act

Ration card. Several States have been integrated under

One Nation One Ration Card cluster at the National

level. In the affidavit, the Department of Expenditure,

Ministry of Finance, has granted additional drawing

permission to States for completing One Nation One

Ration Card system. One Nation One Ration Card is an

important citizen centric reform. Its implementation

ensures availability of ration to beneficiaries under

National Food Security Act (NFSA) and other welfare
29
schemes, especially to the migrant workers and their

families at any Fair Price Shop across the Country. To

ensure seamless inter-State portability of the ration

card, Aadhaar seeding of all ration cards as well as

Biometric Authentication of beneficiaries through

automation of all Fair Price Shops (AFPS) with

installation of electronic- Point of Sale (e-POS)

devices are necessary.

36. As stated above, the Union of India, Department of

Expenditure has permitted State-wise additional

borrowing for completion of One Nation One Ration Card

Scheme. Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General

during his submissions has submitted that Four States

have not yet implemented the One Nation One Ration Card

Scheme being the States of Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi

and West Bengal.

37. Learned counsel appearing for Delhi submits that

Government of NCT Delhi has implemented the One Nation

One Ration Card Scheme. Shri Tushar Mehta’s submission

is that the Government of NCT Delhi has not implemented
30
the scheme fully and only in one circle, i.e., Circle

No.63, Seemapuri, only a handful of transactions with

42 e-POS machines have been done. One Nation One Ration

Card scheme is one of the important welfare measures to

extend food security to migrants who are covered under

the National Food Security Act Scheme. When migrant

workers are spread throughout the Country, each State

has to implement the scheme, which is a necessary

welfare measure towards food security to this class of

persons. The States are duty bound to implement this

Scheme, which is a welfare scheme in the interest of

poor and marginal sections of the society. When a

migrant labour reaches to a particular State for

work/employment and is covered by National Food

Security Act Scheme, the receiving State is under duty

to ensure that his rights and entitlement under

National Food Security Act is not denied merely because

of the fact that he is not in his native State from

where he was issued the ration card under National Food

Security Act scheme.

31

38. We, thus, are of the view that those States who

have not yet implemented One Nation One Ration Card

scheme should implement the same. We direct the States

who have not implemented the One Nation One Ration Card

scheme to implement the scheme by not later than

31.07.2021.

(iii) Coverage of Rural and Urban population under

National Food Security Act, 2013.

39. Section 3 of the National Food Security Act, 2013

provides for Right to receive foodgrains at subsidised

prices by persons belonging to eligible households

under Targeted Public Distribution System. Sections

3(1) and 3(2) are as follows:-

“3. Right to receive foodgrains at subsidised
prices by persons belonging to eligible
households under Targeted Public Distribution
System.– (1) Every person belonging to
priority households, identified under sub-
section (1) of section 10, shall be entitled
to receive five kilograms of foodgrains per
person per month at subsidised prices
specified in Schedule I from the State
Government under the Targeted Public
Distribution System:

32

Provided that the households covered under
Antyodaya Anna Yojana shall, to such extent
as may be specified by the Central Government
for each State in the said scheme, be
entitled to thirty-five kilograms of
foodgrains per household per month at the
prices specified in Schedule I:

Provided further that if annual allocation
of foodgrains to any State under the Act is
less than the average annual off take of
foodgrains for last three years under normal
Targeted Public Distribution System, the same
shall be protected at prices as may be
determined by the Central Government and the
State shall be allocated foodgrains as
specified in Schedule IV.

Explanation.— For the purpose of this
section, the “Antyodaya Anna Yojana” means,
the scheme by the said name launched by the
Central Government on the 25th day of
December, 2000; and as modified from time to
time.

(2) The entitlements of the persons
belonging to the eligible households referred
to in sub-section (1) at subsidised prices
shall extend up to seventy-five per cent. of
the rural population and up to fifty per
cent. of the urban population.”

40. Section 9 provides for coverage of population under

Targeted Public Distribution System, which is to be

determined by the Central Government and the total

number of persons to be covered in such rural and urban

33
areas of the State shall be calculated on the basis of

the population estimates as per the census of which the

relevant figures have been published. The State-wise

coverage under National Food Security Act was

determined by the then Planning Commission (now Niti

Aayog) by using the NSS Household Consumption Survey

data for 2011-2012. More than 10 years have elapsed

from determination of State-wise coverage. In event,

Central Government undertakes fresh determination of

the State-wise coverage under National Food Security

Act, number of beneficiaries State-wise are bound to

increase benefitting the large number of eligible

persons. We, thus, are of the view that Central

Government need to take steps to undertake exercise

under Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013

to re-determine the total number of persons to be

covered under Rural and Urban areas of the State, which

shall be beneficial to large number of persons.

(iv) Inter-state Migrant Workman (Regulation of

Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1979

34

41. The Parliament enacted the above enactment with a

very laudable object protecting migrant workers from

large number of ill-practices. The Statement of

Objects and Reasons of the enactment elaborately

noticed the object and purpose of the enactment, which

is to the following effect:-

“STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

The system of employment of inter-State
migrant labour (known in Orissa as Dadan
Labour) is an exploitative system prevalent
in Orissa and in some other States. In
Orissa, Dadan Labour is recruited from
various parts of the State through
contractors or agents called Sardars/
Khatadars for work outside the State in large
construction projects. This system lends
itself to various abuses. Though
the Sardars promise at the time of
recruitment that wages calculated on piece-
rate basis would be settled every month, the
promise is not usually kept. Once the worker
comes under the clutches of the contractor,
he takes him to a far-off place on payment of
railway fare only. No working hours are fixed
for these workers and they have to work on
all the days in a week under extremely bad
working conditions. The provisions of the
various labour laws are not being observed in
their case and they are subjected to various
malpractices.

35

2. The Twenty-eighth Session of the Labour
Ministers’ Conference (New Delhi, October 26,
1976) which considered the question of
protection and welfare of Dadan Labour
recommended the setting up of a small Compact
Committee to go into the whole question and
to suggest measures for eliminating the
abuses prevalent in this system. The inter-
State migrant workmen are generally
illiterate, unorganised and have normally to
work under extremely adverse conditions and
in view of these hardships, some
administrative and legislative arrangements
both in the State from where they are
recruited and also in the State where they
are engaged for work are necessary to secure
effective protection against their
exploitation. The Compact Committee which was
constituted in February, 1977, therefore,
recommended the enactment of a separate
Central legislation to regulate the
employment of inter-State migrant workmen as
it was felt that the provisions of the
Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition)
Act, 1970, even after necessary amendments
would not adequately take care of the variety
of malpractices indulged in by the
contractors/Sardars/Khatadars, etc., and the
facilities required to be provided to these
workmen in view of the peculiar circumstances
in which they have to work.

3. The recommendations of the Compact
Committee have been examined in consultation
with the State Governments and the Ministries
of the Government of India and the
suggestions made by them have been taken into
account in formulating the proposals for
legislation. The main features of the Bill
are as follows:-

36

(i) The proposed legislation will
apply to every establishment
in which five or more inter-

State migrant workmen are
employed or were employed on
any day of the preceding
twelve months. It will also
apply to every contractor who
employs or employed five or
more inter-State migrant
workmen on any day of the
preceding twelve months.

(ii) The establishment proposing to
employ inter-State migrant
workmen will be required to be
registered with registering
officers appointed under the
Central Government or the
State Governments, as the case
may be, depending on whether
the establishment falls under
the Central sphere or State
sphere. Likewise, every
contractor who proposes to
recruit or employ inter-State
migrant workmen will be
required to obtain a licence
from the specified authority
both of the State to which the
workman belongs (home State)
and the State in which he is
proposed to be employed (host
State).

(iii) The contractor will be
required to furnish
particulars regarding the
workmen in the form to be
prescribed by rules to the
specified authority of both
37
the home State and the host
State. The contractor will
also be required to issue to
every workman employed by him,
a pass book containing the
details of the employment.

(iv) Specific guidelines have been
indicated regarding the wages
payable to inter-State migrant
workman and he is required to
be paid wages from the date of
his recruitment.

(v) The inter-State migrant
workman will be entitled to a
displacement allowance and a
journey allowance in addition
to his wages.

(vi) The amenities that are
required to be provided to the
workmen would include
provision of suitable
residential accommodation,
adequate medical facilities,
protective clothing to suit
varying climatic conditions
and suitable conditions of
work taking into account that
they have migrated from
another State.

(vii) Inspectors will be appointed
by the appropriate Government
to see that the provisions of
the legislation are being
complied with. In addition,
power has been given to the
38
State Government of the home
State to appoint, after
consultation with the
Government of the host State,
inspectors for visiting the
establishments wherein workmen
from the former State are
employed to see whether the
provisions of the legislation
are being complied with in the
case of such workmen.

(viii) The inter-State migrant
workman may raise an
industrial dispute arising out
of his employment either in
the host State or in the home
State after his return to that
State after the completion of
the contract of employment. He
will also be permitted to
apply for the transfer of
proceedings in relation to an
industrial dispute pending
before an authority in the
host State to the
corresponding authority in the
Home State on the ground that
he has returned to the State
after the completion of his
contract.

(ix) Deterrent punishments have
been proposed for the
contravention of the
provisions of the
legislation.”

42. Section 1(4) provides for applicability of the Act

in following manner:-

39

“1(4) It applies-

(a) to every establishment in which five
or more inter-State migrant workmen (whether
or not in addition to other workmen) are
employed or who were employed on any day of
the preceding twelve months;

(b) to every contractor who employs or
who employed five or more inter-State migrant
workmen (whether or not in addition to other
workmen) on any day of the preceding twelve
months.”

43. Section 2 is a definition clause. Sub-clause(b)

defines “contractor” and sub-clause(e) defines “inter-

state migrant workman” as follows:-

“2. Definitions.- (1) In this Act, unless the

context otherwise requires,-

XXXXXXXXXXXX

(b) “contractor”, in relation to an
establishment, means a person who
undertakes (whether as an independent
contractor, agent, employee or
otherwise) to produce a given result for
the establishment, other than a mere
supply of goods or articles of
manufacture to such establishment, by
the employment of workmen or to supply
workmen to the establishment, and
includes a sub-contractor, Khatadar,
Sardar, agent or any other person, by
whatever name called, who recruits or
employs workmen;

40

(e) “inter-State migrant workman” means any
person who is recruited by or through a
contractor in one State under an
agreement or other arrangement for
employment in an establishment in
another State, whether with or without
the knowledge of the principal employer
in relation to such establishment;”

44. Chapter II deals with registration of

establishments employing inter-State Migrant Workmen.

Section 6 contains an injunction that no principal

employer of an establishment shall employ inter-State

migrant workmen in the establishment unless a

certificate of registration in respect of such

establishment is issued under the Act. Similarly,

Chapter III deals with licensing of contractors.

Section 8(2) provides that a licence under sub-section

(1) may contain the terms and conditions of the

agreement or other arrangement under which the workmen

will be recruited, the remuneration payable, hours of

work, fixation of wages and other essential amenities

in respect of the inter-State migrant workmen are to be

included. Section 12 provides for duties and

obligations of contractor. Section 12(1)(a) provides

41
that it shall be the duty of every contractor to

furnish such particulars and in such form as may be

prescribed, to the specified authority in the State

from which an inter-State migrant workman is recruited

and in the State in which such workman is employed,

within fifteen days from the date of recruitment, or,

as the case may be, from the date of employment. In

the Rules framed namely “the Inter-State Migrant

Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of

Service) Central Rules, 1980”, Rule 21 provides for

following:-

“21. Particulars of migrant workman.- (1)
Every contractor shall furnish to the
specified authorities the particulars
regarding recruiting and employment of
migrant workmen in Form X.

(2) The particulars shall be either
personally delivered by the contractor to the
concerned specified authorities or sent to
them by registered post.”

45. Form X under which the information is to be given

by a contractor contains various details pertaining to

the migrant workmen. In event, the licensed

contractors engage migrant workmen, he is bound to give
42
the particulars of the migrant workmen to the specified

authorities and it is in the domain of the authorities

recruiting migrant workers to enable the authorities to

reach the migrant workers and extend the benefits to

which such migrant workers are entitled. Chapter VI

of the Act deals with inspecting staff and Section 20

deals with Inspectors. The appropriate Government is

to appoint Inspectors for the purpose of this Act.

46. Learned counsel appearing for different applicants

and intervenors have contended that though 1979

enactment has been implemented by several States but

neither there is proper licensing of contractors nor

registration of establishments due to which the migrant

workers are not able to reap the benefit to which they

are entitled. References of different State, i.e.,

State of Karnataka (2017), State of Kerala (2018) have

been made where it has been stated that 1979 enactment

has not been implemented. A legislation which has been

enacted by the Parliament as a welfare measure for the

migrant workers needs to be strictly implemented. The

affidavits filed on behalf of different States and
43
Union Territories does not give any facts and figures

pertaining to implementation of the Act. Non-

implementation of the Act adversely affects the rights

of migrant workers. We, thus, are of the view that a

direction need to be issued to the States/Union

Territories to register all establishments and license

all contractors under the Act and ensure that statutory

duty imposed on the contractors to give particulars of

the migrant workers is fully complied with. The

competent authority while registering the

establishments and granting license to the contractors

may also impose conditions pertaining service

condition, journey allowance and other facilities as

set out in Chapter V of the Act.

(v) Registration of Unorganised Workers

47. In orders passed by this Court in these proceedings

on 09.06.2020 and 31.07.2020, we have already referred

to enactments namely (i) The Building and other

Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and

Conditions of Service) Act, 1996; and the Unorganized

Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. The 1996 enactment
44
was enacted by Parliament to regulate the employment

and conditions of service of building and other

construction workers and to provide for their safety,

health and welfare measures and for other matters

connected therewith. The Act provides for registration

of establishments. Chapter IV provides for

registration of building workers as beneficiaries and

also contemplates issuance of identity cards. Sections

12 and 13 of the 1996 Act are as follows:-

“12. Registration of building workers as
beneficiaries:-(1) Every building worker who
has completed either eighteen years of age,
but has not completed sixty years of age, and
who has been engaged in any building or other
construction work for not less than ninety
days during the preceding twelve months shall
be eligible for registration as a beneficiary
under this Act.

(2) An application for registration shall
be made in such form, as may be prescribed,
to the officer authorised by the Board in
this behalf.

(3) Every application under sub-section
(2) shall be accompanied by such documents
together with such fee not exceeding fifty
rupees as may be prescribed.

(4) If the officer authorised by the Board
under sub-section (2) is satisfied that the
applicant has complied with the provisions of
this Act and the rules made thereunder, he
45
shall register the name of the building
worker as beneficiary under this Act:

Provided that an application for
registration shall not be rejected without
giving the applicant an opportunity of being
heard.

(5) Any person aggrieved by the decision
under sub-section (4) may, within thirty days
from the date of such decision, prefer an
appeal to the Secretary of the Board or any
other officer specified by the Board in this
behalf and the decision of the Secretary or
such other officer on such appeal shall be
final:

Provided that the Secretary or any other
officer specified by the Board in this behalf
may entertain the appeal after the expiry of
the said period of thirty days if he is
satisfied that the building worker was
prevented by sufficient cause from filing the
appeal in time.

(6) The Secretary of the Board shall cause
to maintain such registers as may be
prescribed.

13. Identity cards:-(1) The Board shall
give to every beneficiary an identity card
with his photograph duly affixed thereon and
with enough space for entering the details of
the building or other construction work done
by him.

(2) Every employer shall enter in the
identity card the details of the building or
other construction work done by the
beneficiary and authenticate the same and
return it to the beneficiary.

46
(3) A beneficiary who has been issued an
identity card under this Act shall produce
the same whenever demanded by any officer of
Government or the Board, any inspector or any
other authority for inspection.”

48. The other enactment, which has been enacted by

Parliament to provide for the social security and

welfare of unorganized workers’ is the Unorganised

Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. The Statement of

Objects and Reasons of the enactment elaborately

noticed the object and purpose of the enactment, which

is to the following effect:-

“Statement of Objects and Reasons.-

It is estimated that the workers in the
unorganised sector constitute more than
ninety-four per cent. of the total employment
in the country. On account of their
unorganised nature, these workers do not get
adequate social security. Some welfare
schemes are being implemented by the Central
Government for specific groups of unorganised
sector workers such as beedi workers, non-

coal mine workers, cine workers, handloom
weavers, fishermen, etc. State Governments
are implementing welfare programmes for
certain categories of unorganised sector
workers and some Non-Government Organisations
also provide social security to certain
categories of workers. Despite all these
efforts, there is a huge deficit in the
coverage of the unorganised sector workers in

47
the matter of labour protection and social
security measures ensuring the welfare and
well-being of workers in the unorganised
sector, such as agricultural workers,
construction workers, beedi workers, handloom
workers, leather workers, etc.

2. The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security
Bill, 2007 aims to provide for social
security and welfare of the unorganised
sector workers and for matters connected
therewith or incidental thereto. The Bill,
inter alia, provides for the following
matters, namely:-

(i) The Central Government shall
constitute a National Social Security
Advisory Board to recommend suitable
welfare schemes for different sections
of unorganised sector workers, and
upon consideration of these
recommendations, the Central
Government may notify suitable welfare
schemes relating to life and
disability cover, health and maternity
benefits, old age protection, or any
other benefits.

(ii) The State Government shall constitute
the State Social Security Advisory
Board to recommend suitable welfare
schemes for different sections of
unorganised workers in that State and
the State Government may notify
suitable schemes for one or more
sections of the unorganised workers.

(iii) A worker of an unorganised sector
shall be eligible for social security
benefits if, he is duly registered.
48
Every registered worker in the
unorganised sector shall be issued an
identity card which shall be a smart
card carrying a unique identification
number and shall be portable.

(iv) The Central Government and the State
Government shall have the power to
make rules for the purposes of
carrying out the objects of the Bill.

3. The Bill seeks to achieve the above
objectives.”

49. The Unorganised Workers constitute ninety-four

percent of the work force, which is also noticed in the

Statement of Objects and Reasons extracted above. The

unorganized workers belong to poor strata of society,

less educated and are not much aware of their rights

and obligations of their employer. Unorganised workers

are also not able to easily get themselves registered

under Act, 2008 so as to enable them to reap the

welfare schemes of the Central Government as well as of

the State Governments. Section 10 deals with the

registration and social security benefit, which is to

the following effect:-

49
“10. Eligibility for registration and social
security benefits.—(1) Every unorganised
worker shall be eligible for registration
subject to the fulfilment of the following
conditions, namely:—

(a) he or she shall have completed
fourteen years of age; and

(b) a self-declaration by him or her
confirming that he or she is an
unorganised worker.

(2) Every eligible unorganised worker
shall make an application in the prescribed
form to the District Administration for
registration.

(3) Every unorganised worker shall be
registered and issued an identity card by the
District Administration which shall be a
smart card carrying a unique identification
number and shall be portable.

(4) If a scheme requires a registered
unorganised worker to make a contribution, he
or she shall be eligible for social security
benefits under the scheme only upon payment
of such contribution.

(5) Where a scheme requires the Central or
State Government to make a contribution, the
Central or State Government, as the case may
be, shall make the contribution regularly in
terms of the scheme.”

50. At this stage, we may notice the provisions of Code

on Social Security, 2020. Although, Code on Social

50
Security, 2020 has received the Presidential assent in

August, 2020 but the same has not yet been enforced

except the provision for use of Aadhaar. Thus, the

registration under Act, 1996 and Act, 2008 as noted

above has to continue till the provisions of Code on

Social Security, 2020 are enforced, the registration of

unorganized workers both under Act, 1996 and Act, 2008

is beneficial to the unorganized workers since it is

only after registration they are able to access the

welfare schemes of the Central Government and the State

Governments. The registration of the unorganized

workers is, thus, pivotal and most important insofar as

welfare of workers is concerned.

51. We had in our various orders passed in this

proceedings had asked the States/Union Territories to

file affidavits regarding the status of registration of

workers undertaken under the various legislations of

States and Union Territories and they have filed their

detailed affidavits referring to status of registration

of workers. From the facts as brought on record on

behalf of States/Union Territories, steps taken by
51
respective States and Union Territories are

decipherable. It is useful to notice briefly the

status of registration as reflected in the affidavits

of different States.

NCT Delhi

52. In the affidavit dated 08.06.2021 filed on behalf

of State of NCT Delhi, no details regarding process of

registration of construction workers, inter-State

migrant workers and unorganized workers have been

mentioned. However, in the note dated 14.06.2021

submitted on behalf of NCT Delhi with regard to Act,

1979 and Act, 1996, it has been stated that online

portal for registration of establishments employing

migrant workers is in place since December, 2019. It

is further mentioned that Delhi Inter-State Migrant

Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of

Service) Rules, 1982 have been notified on 04.06.1982.

It is further stated that by virtue of Section 2(e),

migrant workers themselves cannot register under Act,

1979 and it is the contractor, who has to register the
52
migrant workers. With regard to Act, 1996, it is stated

that under the said Act, Delhi Building and Other

Construction Workers (RE & CS) Rules, 2002 have been

notified. It is further mentioned that steps are being

taken by issuing notice to the various employers to get

them registered under Act, 1996. With regard to the

Unorgnised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008,

following is the statement made:-

i. Unorganized Workers Social Security Act,
2008 has been subsumed in the Code on
Social Security, 2020. Labour
Department, GNCTD is drafting Rules under
Code on Social Security Code, 2020.

ii. Central Government is in the process of
making a National Database for
Unorganised Workers (NDUW) and Integrated
Portal for Social Security and Welfare
Schemes, on Unorganised workers – State
wise regarding unorganized workers and
also develop a suitable National Software
for registration of unorganized workers
which will have uniformity across the
country and portability also – action is
awaited from Central Government, in this
regard.

iii. Job portal was launched by GNCTD on
27.07.2020 to provide a interactive
platform between the employers and
prospective jobseekers. This interactive
platform shall help prospective
jobseekers to procure employment.”
53
State of Gujarat

53. It is submitted that an estimated 23 lakhs inter-

State migrant workers are engaged in various

industries, establishments and factories in the State

of Gujarat. In pursuance of the same, it is submitted

that the portal, called the “e-nirman” portal is ready

and is launched by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of

Gujarat on 08.06.2021 and made operational. Through,

the “e-nirman” portal, the construction workers will

now be provided with a smart card containing their

details as opposed to a physical passbook which was

being provided in the older system. The smart card

will enable the construction workers to directly avail

the benefits of more than 20 schemes of the Government

pertaining to maternity assistance, assistance in cases

of death and permanent disability, educational

assistance, hostel facility scheme etc. and thus

permeating the deepening the impact of such schemes for

the beneficiaries.

54

54. The State of Gujarat has simultaneously set up a

portal (gujaratuwin.csccloud.in) for registration of

Unorganised Workers. The said portal is also launched

by Hon’ble Chief Minister of Gujarat on 08.06.2021 and

made operational, along with the “e-nirman” portal.

This portal for Unorganised Workers is also integrated

with more than 21290 Common Service Centres in the

State and will be used to issue Unorganised Worker

Identity Number (U-WIN) cards. It is submitted that

the data registered on this portal will be subsequently

integrated with the National level portal that is being

operationalised in the form of the National Database of

Unorganised Workers Project by the Government of India.

55. It is submitted that district-wise pockets of

unorganised workers like street vendors, retail

workers, fisherman, textile market workers, wiremen,

rickshaw drivers, kite making workers, vegetable

sellers, bidi making workers, tailors etc. have already

been identified and a registration drive will be
55
carried out focusing on such pockets. Thus, the

process of registration will be brought to the doorstep

of unorganized workers.

State of Telangana

56. It has been stated on behalf of State of Telangana

that the registration of workers and issue of identity

cards to the unorganized workers will be processed soon

after receiving the Registration Module from Government

of India, Ministry of Labour and Employment, New Delhi.

State of Chhatisgarh

57. At the outset, it is submitted that in compliance

of the orders of this Court, approximately 4,34,658

migrant workers who have returned to the State of

Chhatisgarh from other states have been benefited

according to their eligibility under various schemes of

the Central Government and State Government.

58. The registration of unorganized workers is being

done through the online portal and a total of

approximately 14,33,702 unorganised workers have been

registered.

56

State of Uttar Pradesh

59. The State of UP is maintaining a robust system of

registration of such migrant workers as they come into

the State, as has been detailed in the previous

affidavit dated 22.05.2021. A portal on the website of

the Relief Commissioner, http://www.rahat.up.nic.in,

has been created, on which all relevant details of all

migrant workers are to be uploaded in real-time.

60. As per data available with the Director, Training

and Employment, Uttar Pradesh, as many as 37,84,255

migrant workers have returned to their native places

during the entire Covid-19 pandemic period. Their

skill mapping has been completed and 10,44,710

labourers have already been given employment in

different schemes of different departments of the State

Government. It is submitted that as per the data

available as on 08.06.2021, the details/data of

3,79,220 migrant workers have been registered and their

skills mapped on the rahat.up.nic.in portal since

01.04.2021.

57

61. It is further submitted that the rahat.up.nic.in

portal is also being utilized to identify workers other

than registered workers for availing of the benefit of

the decision taken by the State Cabinet on 15.05.2021

to provide all eligible persons a sustenance allowance

of Rs.1000 per month by way of direct Bank Transfer.

The rahat.up.nic.in portal is to be utilized for the

purpose of such registration of such beneficiaries. As

on 08.06.2021 the data/details of 12,92,247 such

persons has been uploaded on the rahat portal since

18.05.2021.

State of Jharkhand

62. It is submitted that during the second phase of

lockdown, an additional number of 39,853 have been

registered under the Building and other Construction

Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of

Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW Act). Out of these benefits

have been extended to 22,830 beneficiaries and

Rs.13,98,15,919/- has been disbursed under various

58
schemes run by the Jharkhand Building and Other

Construction Workers Welfare Board, Ranchi.

63. It is further submitted that directions have been

issued to Officers in the State by Labour Commissioner,

Jharkhand vide letter No.557 dated 28.05.2021 and

letter No.577 dated 08.06.2021 to complete the process

of registration of unorganised workers in the area

under their jurisdictions and the following steps have

been taken:-

(a) Under Unorganised Workers Social Security
Act, 2008, 14.71 lakhs unorganized workers
have been registered till now.

(b) Five Schemes have been launched by the
State for the benefit of unorganized
workers.

(c) In the financial year 2020-2021 total
number of registered beneficiaries sum of
Rs.51,50,650/- has been disbursed under
different schemes.

State of Bihar

59

64. The State of Bihar has submitted details regarding

registration of migrant labours in the affidavit dated

21.05.2021. About 19 lakh migrant labours were

registered and brought under skill mapping through the

portal app on their arrival at their blocks/Block

Quarantine Camps. About 11 lakh migrant labours were

registered under Shramik Panjikaran Portal of the

Labour Resource Department. About 2 lakh unorganized

workers have been enrolled under “Pradhan Mantri Shram

Yogi Maandhan Yojna”.

65. Regarding the development of National Data Base for

the Unorgganised Workers (NDUW), it is respectfully

submitted that the Ministry of Labour and Employment,

Government of India vide its letter D.O.No.M-

16011/1/2019-SS-III dated 28.10.2020 has informed to

the State Government that it has started the

development of comprehensive National Data Base for the

Unorganized Workers (NDUW) including migrant and

construction workers. The portal may be used for the

delivery of various Social Security/Welfare Schemes.

60
It was also informed that the NDUW portal is being

developed under the technical guidance of NIC.

66. It is further submitted that it was expected from

the department to provide comprehensive action plan for

the registration of unorganized workers along with the

details of two Nodal Officers. The department through

its letter No.1/UL.10-05/2020-21 dated 08.04.2021

nominated the Labour Commissioner, Bihar and Joint

Labour Commissioner, Bihar as the nodal officers for

the implementation of the National Data Base for the

Unorganised Workers (NDUW). Further, the department

also provided the comprehensive action plan for the

registration of unorganized workers to the Ministry of

Labour and Employment vide letter No.-1/UL.10-05/2020-

107 dated 16.04.2021.

State of Karnataka

67. The Karnataka Building and other Construction

Workers Welfare Board under the Act, 1996 has

computerized the registration process and the eligible

building and other construction workers are registered
61
through the “Seva Sindhu portal”. Once registered,

smart cards with unique identity number are provided to

the workers. The note submitted on behalf of State of

Karnataka also refers to 19 welfare schemes formulated

by Karnataka Building and Other Construction Workers

Board. With regard to Act, 2008, it has been stated

that Karnataka State Unorganised Workers Social

Security Board is functioning under Labour Department

of the State of Karnataka in registering 11 categories

of Unorganised Sector Workers on web portal

“ksuwssb.in”.

State of West Bengal

68. The Government of West Bengal in its affidavit has

referred to a Scheme under which cash benefit of

Rs.1,000/- was transferred to the unorganized workers,

who were permanent resident of West Bengal and not

getting any benefit from any Government Scheme. The no

details have been given regarding process of

registration under the aforesaid two Acts.

State of Madhya Pradesh

62

69. With regard to registration of migrant workers,

following is stated:-

“The Panchayat and Rural Development
Department through Gram Panchayat machinery
in Rural area and Urban Administration
Department through their Urban local bodies
in urban areas are in process of compiling
information with respect of all categories of
migrants and their family returning back to
their residences. A portal namely
“PRAVASISHAMIK” has been launched wherein
migrants returned to their residences in
Madhya Pradesh are registered by the
Panchayat and Urban Body’s local staff
respectively. Total number of 41,392 migrant
workers have been registered on this portal
till 01.06.2021.

Besides above, registration of unorganized
workers had started in State in the year 2018
under the ‘Mukhyamantri Jan Kalyan (SAMBAL)
Yojana’. Under the said scheme,
approximately 1.47 unorganised workers with
complete database have so far been
registered.”

State of Maharashtra

70. With regard to registration of unorganized workers,

it has been stated that under Act, 2008, Maharashtra

Unorganised Workers Social Security Rules, 2013 have

been framed. Maharashtra Social Security Board has also

been constituted on 03.04.2018. The registration under

the Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 has
63
yet to start, but till date, around 5,88,304 workers

have been enrolled under Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi

Maandhan Yojana through Common Service Centres since

March, 2019. Further, the unorganized workers will

also be given benefits of various schemes by the State

Government, such as (i) provident fund, (ii) financial

assistance in case of injury at work place, (iii)

housing schemes, (iv) scholarship scheme for children,

(v) skill development, (vi) funeral benefits, (vii) old

age homes.

71. Further, with regard to Act, 1996, following has

been stated on behalf of the State of Maharashtra:-

“In exercise of Section 18 of the Building
and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of
Employment and Conditions of Service) Act,
1996, the State has constituted the
Maharashtra Building and Other Construction
Workers Welfare Board (“the Board”). The
Bard has undertaken various measures to
register construction workers. The Board has
implemented four special registration drives
in the last two years across Maharashtra.

The monthly contribution of registered
construction workers is reduced to Rs.1/- per
month (from Rs.5/- per month). The Board is
taking help of NGOs, workers union and local
representatives for registration of
64
construction workers. Monitoring Committees
under the Chairmanship of district collectors
is also constituted for registration, renewal
and benefit distribution. Benefit
distribution programs were also conducted in
presence of the Chief Minister, Labour
Minister, Guardian Minister of the concerned
district and a local representative. Due to
the effect of various measures undertaken by
the Board the registration of construction
workers increased in the last three years.
The total registration of construction
workers till 15.05.2021 is 25,53,519 and
active registered construction workers are
11,82,152.”

72. In our last order, we had referred to earlier order

of this Court dated 21.08.2018 passed in Special Leave

Petition (Crl.) No. 150 of 2012. This Court had

directed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to make

available the module to all States and Union

Territories for purposes of registration under Act,

2008 and following was the order passed on 21.08.2018:-

“Mr. Vinod Kumar, Director, Ministry of
Labour and Employment and Mr. Ajit Kumar Dung
Dung, Under Secretary, RSBY, are present
before this Court.

The Ministry of Labour and Employment is
now involved in the process of finalizing a
registration module for unorganized workers
65
and after the security audit it will be made
ready by the end of December, 2018. It is
submitted that thereafter it will be made
available to the States/Union Territories for
further process of registration and issuance
of paper identity cards.

We direct the Chief Secretary of all the
States and Administrators of all the Union
Territories to start registering 10% of the
estimated number of workers every month
starting from the month of January, 2019 and
submit a Report to this Court by 31.01.2019.

Needless to say that the Ministry will
make available the module to all the States
and Union Territories for the purpose of
registration by the last week of December,
2018.”

73. In spite of the above direction which was issued on

21.08.2018, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has

not yet been able to provide the module to all States

and Union Territories for the purpose of registration.

We have noticed above that several States have stated

in their affidavits that they are waiting for the

module to be provided by the Ministry of Labour and

Employment to proceed further with the registration of

unorganized workers. In this context, we may also

refer to press release dated 05.05.2021 of the Ministry

of Labour and Employment, which states:-

66
“Section 142 of the Social Security Code,
2020 has been notified by Ministry of Labour
& Employment covering applicability of
Aaadhar. The notification of section will
enable Ministry of Labour and Employment to
collect Aaadhar details for the database of
beneficiaries under various social security
schemes.

National Data Base for unorganised workers
(NDUW) is at an advanced stage of development
by National Informatics Centre. The portal
is aimed at collection of data for
unorganised workers including migrant workers
for the purpose of giving benefits of the
various schemes of the Government. An inter-
state migrant worker can register himself on
the portal on the basis of submission of
Aaadhar alone.

Union Minister of State (I/c) for Labour
and Employment Shri Santosh Gangwar has
clarified that the section under the Social
Security Code has been notified only for
collection of data of workers including
migrant workers. No benefit will be denied to
workers for want of Aaadhar.”

74. We had specifically directed to the Union of India

by our order dated 24.05.2021 to file a detailed

affidavit with regard to process of registration of

unorganized workers as undertaken by Ministry of Labour

and Employment. In pursuance of our direction, an

affidavit has been filed by the Union of India dated

67
09.06.2021. In paragraphs 16, 17 and 18 of the

affidavit, following has been stated:-

“16. It is respectfully submitted that, the
major technical as well as other operational
issues have been resolved and development of
the portal had commenced. However, the recent
outbreak of Corona has impacted the
development of the portal as many of the
personnel associated with the project were
affected with Covid. It is submitted that,
the MoLE has already released first
installment of Rs.45.39 Crore to National
Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI) in
the month of January/February, 2021 for
required development work and necessary
purchases of hardware and software.

17. It is humbly submitted that, NIC has been
tasked prepare and hand over the NDUW Portal
at the earliest, preferably in the next 3 to
4 months to the State/UT Governments to carry
out the registration of the Unorganised
Workers through their districts and state
levels administrative machinery. Finally, it
will be the responsibility of State/ UT
Governments to populate the data by
mobilising unorganised workers to register in
their respective States/UTs through Common
Service Centres, State Seva Kendras, Labour
Facilitation Centers, Digital Seva Kendras
under Department of Posts etc on this portal.
For this purpose, a Comprehensive Action Plan
is being prepared in the Ministry along with
monthly measurable milestones to monitor the
registration work in an effective manner. In
addition, the workers will also be able to
register themselves through mobile app or
NDUW Portal in a more convenient way in a
self-mode or assisted mode.

68

18. It is humbly submitted that, the Central
Government is committed in developing a
comprehensive, dynamic and useful National
Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW)
including migrant workers, gig workers,
platform workers, Building/Construction
Workers, domestic workers and similar other
workers, in order to ensure that they can be
the rightful beneficiaries of the various
schemes/benefits by the Central Government
and the State Governments.”

75. Regarding registration of unorganized workers, the

stand taken by the Union of India as noted above does

not commend us. We have noticed that this Court as

early as on 21.08.2018 had directed the Ministry of

Labour and Employment to make available a module to the

States/Union Territories for the purpose of

registration. No exception can be taken to the Central

Government deciding to create NDUW portal for

facilitating the States and Union Territories to

register so that national Database of Unorganised

Workers may become available. A statement is made in

the above paragraph that NIC has been required to

develop a portal for which an amount of Rs.45.39 crores

have been released in the month of January/February,

69
2021. When the unorganized workers are waiting for

registration and are waiting to reap the benefit of

various welfare schemes of the States and Centre, the

apathy and lackadaisical attitude by the Ministry of

Labour and Employment is unpardonable. There was

urgency in the portal to be finalized and implemented

looking to the pandemic and dire need of unorganized

workers to receive the benefit. The attitude of

Ministry of Labour and Employment in not completing the

module even though directed as early as on 21.08.2018

shows that Ministry is not alive to the concern of the

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 NDUW

portal is finalized and implementation of the portal

commences on or before 31.07.2021. Let Secretary of

the Ministry of Labour and Employment file a report to

that effect within a period of one month thereafter.

76. To provide access to the migrant workers to

different Schemes of State Government and Central

Government, registration is a must. We impress upon
70
Central Government as well as States and Union

Territories to complete the portal for registration

under National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW)

project as well as implement the same, which by all

means may commence not later than 31.07.2021. We make

it clear that after registration is complete, the

correction and updating of the data should be always

possible and which is part of the process. It is only

after registration of the workers that the States and

the Centre shall be able to extend the benefits of the

welfare schemes to them. Prior to that unless the

registration is complete, tall claims by all the States

and Union that they have implemented various welfare

schemes for the migrant workers and unorganized workers

remain only on paper without giving any benefit to

unorganized workers.

(vi) Community Kitchen

77. Most of the States during this pandemic have been

running community kitchens for migrant labourers and

other persons, who needed two meals a day due to

various reasons including cessation of employment. We
71
had also directed the States to run community kitchens

for migrant labourers. States in their affidavits have

given details regarding running of the community

kitchens. The State of Karnataka states that community

kitchens called Indira Canteens are being run in the

City Corporation/Municipal Corporation limits. It has

been stated on behalf of the State of Kerala that the

State of Kerala is providing community kitchen to the

stranded migrant workers during outbreak of Covid-19

pandemic in 2020 as per Government order dated

26.03.2020 and 03.04.2020. It is stated that Kerala

Government has issued combined guidelines for the

operation of the scheme “Hunger free Kerala- Janakeeya

Hotel and Community Kitchens” under the Local Self

Government Institutions for providing food packets to

the eligible categories. On 11.05.2021 further

guidelines have been issued for the operation of

Janakeeya Hotels and Community Kitchens. The State of

Punjab submits that 38 community kitchens are working

in different districts of Punjab. State of Telangana’s

case is that 140 Annapurna Canteens are available in
72
Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation limits where

food is given @ Rs.5/-. Migrant workers can utilize

their services. The state of Tamil Nadu’s case is that

as per Government policy, everyone can avail food at

free of cost during the lock-down period at Government

run canteens functioning as community kitchens in

various Municipal Corporations of Tamil Nadu. The

Government of NCT Delhi states that in view of the

curfew and lockdown announced on 19.04.2021, the

Government of NCT of Delhi made various arrangements

for the relief and welfare of the migrant labourers.

Hunger Relief Centres for migrant workers, daily

workers and other needy persons have been established

in all 11 districts of Delhi. Food packets are being

provided at the construction sites. The case of the

State of U.P. is that vide G.O. dated 15.04.2021, the

Government of U.P. had directed temporary shelter

camps/quarantine facilities/screening camps to be set

up to accommodate the migrant workers returning to

their native places during the second wave of pandemic,

whereby in temporary camps two complete meals a day
73
were provided. In the State of West Bengal, it is

stated that “Maa Community Kitchen Scheme” is in

operation in Kolkata Municipal Corporation area and

other municipalities/corporations areas since March,

2021 where good food at a subsidized rate of Rs.5/- per

meal is provided, which scheme can be availed by

anyone. There are 150 canteens running across 23

districts. The State of Madhya Pradesh also states

that under the “Deendayal Antyoday Rasoi” Scheme 100

kitchen centres are operating since February, 2021 in

52 district headquarters and in 6 other prominent

religious towns. State of Maharashtra submits that

presently there are no migrant workers, who are

‘stranded’ in the State, hence there is no question of

providing community kitchen to ‘stranded’ migrant

workers. State refers to a scheme titled ‘Shiv Bhojan

Thali’, which provides meals to the public @ Rs.10/-.

78. It is true that after relaxation of lockdown and

restrictions imposed, all the industries have started

functioning, providing of employment to large number of

people including migrant workers but still there are
74
migrant labourers, who have not got any employment.

The States have been running community kitchens during

the pandemic. We are of the view that State should run

the community kitchens at prominent places where large

number of migrant labourers are there, which community

kitchens should be continued at-least till the pandemic

continues. The States should advertise places where

facility of community kitchen/subsidized meals is

provided so that no migrant labour, who is unable to

arrange for his two meals can remain hungry.

(vii) Direct Bank Transfer to unorganized workers.

79. All States have filed their affidavits and most of

the States have made direct bank transfers to

construction workers, who are registered under Act,

1996. The amount ranging from Rs.1,000/- to Rs.6,000/-

has been transferred to the construction workers. Few

States have also made transfer to other categories

including auto rickshaw drivers and some other

categories. The right of direct bank transfer flows

from a particular scheme framed by a State. In event,

a person including a migrant labourer is entitled for
75
any direct bank transfer from any scheme, he can claim

for such entitlement. Before us, no such scheme by any

State has been pleaded on record where conscious

decision has been taken by the State to make direct

bank transfer to a migrant labourer. The direct bank

transfer being matter of policy and being in domain of

the State, no direction can be issued by this Court for

any direct bank transfer as claimed by certain

applicants/intervenors. We only observe that in event

any person is entitled for direct bank transfer as per

the existing scheme in any State, he can avail the said

benefit by the mechanism as provided in the policy

decision.

80. In view of the foregoing discussions and our

conclusions, we dispose of the writ petitions with the

following directions:-

  (i)      It is directed that the Central Government to

           develop        the   Portal      in     consultation           with

           National        Informatics           Centre        (NIC)       for

           registration              of          the           unorganized

labourers/migrant workers. We also impress upon
76
and direct that the Central Government as well

as the respective States and the Union

Territories to complete the process of Portal

for registration under National Data Base for

Unorganised Workers (NDUW Project) as well as

implement the same, which by all means may

commence not later than 31.07.2021. We also

impress upon and direct that the process of

registration of the unorganized

labourers/migrant workers is completed at the

earliest, but not later than 31.12.2021. All

the concerned States/Union Territories and the

Licence Holders/Contractors and others to

cooperate with the Central Government to

complete the process of registration of migrant

workers and unorganized labourers so that the

benefits of the welfare schemes declared by the

Central Government/State Governments/ Union

Territories be available to migrant workers and

unorganized labourers for whose benefits the

welfare schemes are declared.

77

(ii) The Central Government having undertaken to

distribute additional quantity of foodgrains as

demanded by the States/Union Territories for

distribution to migrant labourers under some

Scheme framed by the States, we direct the

Central Government, Department of Food and

Public Distribution (Ministry of Consumer

Affairs, Food and Public Distribution) to

allocate and distribute foodgrains as per

demand of additional food-grains from the

States for disbursement of dry foodgrains to

migrant labourers.

(iii) We direct the States to bring in place an

appropriate scheme for distribution of dry

ration to migrant labourers for which it shall

be open for States to ask for allocation of

additional foodgrains from the Central

Government, which, as directed above, shall

provide the additional foodgrains to the State.

The State shall consider and bring an

78
appropriate Scheme, which may be implemented on

or before 31.07.2021. Such scheme may be

continued and operated till the current

pandemic (Covid-19) continues.

(iv) The States, who have not yet implemented “One

Nation One Ration Card” scheme are directed to

implement the same by not later than

31.07.2021.

(v) The Central Government may undertake exercise

under Section 9 of the National Food Security

Act, 2013 to re-determine the total number of

persons to be covered under the Rural and Urban

areas of the State.

(vi) We direct all the States/Union Territories to

register all establishments and license all

contractors under the Act, 1979 and ensure that

statutory duty imposed on the contractors to

give particulars of migrant workers is fully

complied with.

(vii) The State/Union Territories are directed to run

community kitchens at prominent places where
79
large number of migrant labourers are found for

feeding those migrant labourers who does not

have sufficient means to procure two meals a

day. The running of the community kitchen

should be continued at-least till pandemic

(Covid-19) continues.

81. In view of the above directions, this writ petition

and the Writ Petition (C) No.916 of 2020 are disposed

of.

………………….J.

( ASHOK BHUSHAN )

………………….J.

( M.R. SHAH )
New Delhi,
June 29, 2021.

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