New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday (October 28) directed all state governments to ensure dry ration for all sex workers identified by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in adequate amount and uniformity, in view of the coronavirus pandemic.

A bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao directed the state governments to get help from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and legal services authorities to identify sex workers and maintain confidentiality pertaining to the identity of sex workers.

The apex court asked all the states to file compliance report within four weeks giving details of number of sex workers who got dry ration within this period.

The bench was hearing a plea which has raised the issue problems faced by sex workers on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It asked the states to file a detailed report on how they would provide ration cards and other facilities to sex workers.

"We are aware of the facts that states are coming forward to provide assistance but the problem is that these sex workers don't have any proof of identity. Therefore, all should be given rations. States should tell us how this should be implemented," the bench said.

During the hearing, advocate Pukhrambam Ramesh Kumar, appearing for Manipur, contended that the state does not have any scheme for the relief of sex workers and has written to National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) so that some funds can be provided.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) submitted that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) guidelines do not allow funds to be used for this purpose. The bench asked the state to figure out the finances and write to the Centre for finances.

The bench then asked Additional Solicitor General RS Suri that Manipur said there is a shortage of funds to distribute dry ration. "We have asked the State of Manipur to file a representation with the Centre," Justice Rao told ASG Suri, to which he replied to let it file a representation and the government will look into this.