THE Supreme Court has issued interim directions in the suo motu proceedings initiated by it into the miseries faced by migrant workers. The bench has given additional directions to the Central Government and State Government. The bench also noted that High Courts, being Constitutional Courts, are well within their jurisdiction to take cognizance of violation of fundamental rights of migrant workers. It remarked, “We have no doubt that those proceedings shall proceed after considering all aspects including the response of concerned authorities”.
The court has recorded its appreciations for the NGOs and individuals who came forward to help the migrant workers by providing food, water and transportation at their cost. The court, thus, noted, “The society as a whole was moved by miseries and difficulties of migrant labourers and it exhibited its passion and devotion by way of individuals. Nongovernmental organisations coming forward to help the migrant workers and to fight the pandemic and extend help 21 by providing food, water and transportation at their cost which deserves all appreciation”.
The court observed, “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 deal 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”.
A three-judge bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah has directed as follows:
States/Union Territories shall take all necessary steps regarding identification of stranded migrant workers in their State who are willing to return to their native places. They shall take steps for their immediate return journey by train/bus and the process may be completed within a period of 15 days from today.
In the event of any additional demand, that is uncovered by demand of 171 Shramik trains, the railways shall provide Shramik trains within a period of 24 hours.
The Central Government may give details of all schemes which can be availed by migrant workers who have returned to their native places.
States and Union Territories shall provide details of all schemes currently in force, including different schemes for providing employment, that can benefit the migrant labourers.
The State shall establish counselling centres, help desk at block and district level to provide all necessary information regarding schemes of the Government. It is to extend a helping hand to migrant labourers to identify avenues of employment and benefits which can be availed by them under different schemes.
The details of all migrant labourers, who have reached their native places, shall be maintained village wise, block wise and district wise to facilitate the administration to extend benefit of different schemes which may be applicable to such migrant workers. The list must include details of their skill, nature of employment, earlier place of employment.
The counselling centres 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.
All concerned States/UTs are to consider withdrawal of prosecution/complaints under Section 51 of Disaster Management Act and other related offences lodged against the migrant labourers for alleged violation of Lockdown.
The court, on May 29, had directed that no fare either by train or by bus should be charged from any migrant workers. Further, the migrant workers who are stranded at different places in the country shall be provided food free of cost by the concerned States / Union Territories at different places which shall be publicized and notified to them during the period they are waiting for their turn to board the train or bus.