Karnataka HC Directs State Govt To Act On Harassment Of Migrant Workers By Their Employers

The Karnataka High Court on Friday has directed the State Government to attend to complaints of those migrant workers who are being harassed be their employers and are not being allowed to go back to their respective States while also directing State Government to place on record its policy of enabling the migrant workers to leave the State and reach their respective home States, and also ensure that all categories of migrant workers are well taken care of.

The High Court issued the direction on Friday, in a petition filed by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), seeking trains for migrants who wish to go back to their home states.

The Court considered the question of whether the State can put an embargo on the migrant workers travelling back to their respective home States, once the Central government allows the migrants to travel to their respective states. 

A division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice BV Nagarathna asked the state to formulate a ‘rational policy’ that takes care of ‘all categories of migrant workers’. This includes migrant workers who may or may not be housed in shelters provided by their employers or the state government.

The Ministry of Home Affairs of Government of India issued an order on 1st May, 2020, allowing the movement of migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists, students and other persons stranded at different places by special trains and the Ministry of Railways  issued an order dated 2nd May, 2020, laying down the procedure for operation of “Shramik Special Trains”.

The Court stated that the State Government needs to frame a "rational policy" laying down the manner in which all the migrant workers who wish to travel back to their home States can be allowed to travel back to their respective States. If some migrant workers who are residing far away from the capital city desire to go back to their respective States and all the procedural formalities with the other States are completed, the necessary arrangements for operation of Shramik Special Trains from different stations should then be made.

According to the Court, a rational policy like this will ensure that the fundamental rights of the migrant workers under Article 19 read with Article 14 of the Constitution are not infringed. 

The Government has also been directed to ensure that these migrants are made well aware of the government policy, because making them aware will ensure that that they do not undertake any adventure of walking from their respective places towards their home States, leading to terrible like migrants losing their lives because of the accidents on the roads, on railway tracks, due to hunger, etc. 

“We direct the State Government to place on record its policy of enabling the migrant workers to leave the State of Karnataka and reach their respective home States. The policy shall be placed on record on or before the next date,” said the Court. 

The Court further directed, The State Government also needs to ensure that a policy is framed to deal with situations when few migrants need to be selected because of non- availability of enough transportation. The Railways have come forward to provide services of special trains which are called as “Shramik Special Trains” by their order dated May 2nd 2020, directed the State to place on record the manner in which the State will arrange for operation of special trains for the benefit of migrants.

-India Legal Bureau