The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday issued directions to all the Municipal Corporations and Municipal Authorities to set up shelters for migrant workers and to ensure that all facilities are made available to them in their respective jurisdictions.
The Counsel for Karnataka State Legal Services Authority had pointed out the status of migrant workers in the city of Bengaluru before the court. The report was presented in the court wherein it was found that more than 2000 persons had assembled in and around Majestic Railway Station and Balepet Circle. They were not maintaining social distancing and most of them were migrant workers from North Karnataka, Bihar and Jharkhand. It was stated by the counsel that they are not being provided with any shelter and food. Also facility of toilets is not available to them.
PUCL’s (People’s Union for Civil Liberties) counsel had pointed out operational guidelines for urban homeless shelters according to which, the urban local bodies are responsible for providing shelters. Therefore, the court directed BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike) with the help of Government Officers to locate migrants on the streets in different part of the city and to accommodate all of them immediately by setting up shelters in the city, whereby the counsel for KSLSA had suggested before the court to convert the municipal schools and municipal community halls into shelters for migrant workers and also they be permitted to use the the toilets on the bus stands, railway stations, etc.
“It is the obligation of BBMP to contact all the Associations of entities/Companies which are doing the real estate business in the city, hold meetings with their Associations and ensure that the members of the Association take care of the labourers engaged by them 7 on various construction sites in the city” stated by the court.
The court directed the State to immediately look into the matter of Mysuru city where no facility of toilets is being provided to the migrant workers. The court further directed the State to place district-wise break-up of the cases which are tested positive for COVID-19, details of the location of laboratories which are authorized to test and diagnose people for COVID-19 and furnish district-wise break up of Isolation beds and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with 740 ventilators and disclose whether any effort is made to ascertain how many isolation beds will be required in the State.
The Secretaries of the respective District Legal Services Authorities were asked to visit Primary Health Centres (PHCs) on random basis in their respective jurisdictions and will submit a report to the Court on the functioning of the PHCs. The court pointed out the grievances related to non-availability of masks in rural areas on which the state had given figures of available stock of N-95 Masks, Triple Layer Masks, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) Kits and Sanitizer bottles, further the Court directed the State to give a statement on whether masks, PPE kits and sanitizers have been made available to all the public hospitals in the State.
It was notified in the court by the Additional Advocate General that the State will convene a video conference meeting on 8th of April, 2020 in presence of the Secretary of the Health Department and other officers which can be attended by the members of the Bar.
The State Government has stated in the their written submissions before the court on the issue of Clause 9 and clause 10 of the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs which is “No religious congregations will be permitted” and “All Social/political/sports/ entertainment/academic/cultural/ religious functions/gatherings shall be barred.” That it has directed closure of Muzarai Temples for public even before 24th March, 2020 and the circular was issued on 23rd March, 2020 by the Minority Welfare and Waqf Department of the State Government, stating that no member of public would be permitted to offer namaz in mosques. Another order was issued by the Karnataka Board of Auqaf on 31st March, 2020 which stipulates that no member of public shall be allowed to offer Namaz in Mosques and five time congregation prayers including Jumma Namaz which was stand suspended till 14th April, 2020.
The Additional Advocate General stated before the Court that no permission has been granted by the State Government or by Police Commissioner of City of Bengaluru to hold Bengaluru Karaga Festival on Wednesday night i.e. 8th April, 2020 and the report published in Times of India for the grant of such permission is incorrect. In continuation, the court directed the State to scrupulously implement and enforce the guidelines contained in Clauses (9) and (10) and show zero tolerance to the violators. The Court further asked the State to respond on the issue of inadequate supply and stock of medicines in the medical shops.
The State government also stated that the category of citizens who were getting benefit from Anganawadies are being supplied ration at their door-steps till 14th April, 2020. Thereafter, the court asked the State to respond on the supply of ration to the categories of migrant workers and come up with the clear picture regarding the Hunger Helplines which are available to the citizens throughout the State and whether adequate publicity has been given to the availability of Helplines.
On the following issues such as care of animals, supply of passes to the farmers and labourers to approach their fields, and health and safety of Pourakarmikas, the Court had asked the state to come out with elaborate steps in the next hearing. The State Government further stated that the portal is being developed for the NGO to upload information and on which the court asked the state to expedite it.
Lastly, the Court pointed out the issue of release of prisoners and it was stated by the High-Power Committee that 636 prisoners have been granted interim bail. So far, 613 prisoners have availed of orders of interim bail, out of 1379 prisoners who have been identified for being released on Parole, 121 prisoners have been released so far and as many as 215 prisoners have declined to avail of the order of Parole. Therefore, the court asked the Secretaries of District Legal Services Authorities to visit the prisons and inform such prisoners about their right to apply for relaxation of conditions of grant of bail and to render necessary assistance to the prisoners to enable them to apply for modification or relaxation of the conditions of bail.
-India Legal Bureau