The Supreme Court on Monday said its main concern is that benefits which are meant for migrant workers must reach them and stressed the process of their registration is woefully slow. The top court said the Centre and state governments must expedite registration of migrant workers and also those working in the unorganised sectors.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and M. R. Shah told the Centre's counsel: "Our main concern is that benefits meant for migrant workers must reach them. We have taken a cursory look at your (Centre) affidavit but there is nothing about registration of migrant workers in it." The top court also queried that how will the government give dry ration to labourers who do not have ration cards?
The top court also queried, why there is no national data on workers of unorganised sector? The court emphasised that data and the portal are essential to ensure benefits reach the needy during the lockdown.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed with the top court's suggestion that identification and registration of migrant workers is necessary, which would help in transfer of money directly in their accounts, besides other benefits. The top court also queried the Centre, who will monitor government schemes are reaching the beneficiaries, there should be supervision these benefits are reaching the needy, and suggested appointed of nodal officers.
Justice Shah said: "On paper, we have government has spent thousands of crores, but the concern is that whether it is reaching the needy persons?"
The bench said: "The government must approach them (migrant workers) to get them registered." The bench added governments could extend benefits to migrant workers, those who lost employment amid the pandemic, only if they were registered. The bench emphasised, "It is a difficult task, but has to be achieved." The bench added that the Centre and states must expedite registration of migrant workers along with those working in the unorganised sectors.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan pointed out that migrant workers aren't only construction workers but rickshaw pullers, small vendors and street hawkers, who have been severely affected due to the pandemic. Bhushan submitted that cash transfer is a must to provide succour to them.