Mahua Moitra, Member of Parliament from Krishnanagar, West Bengal wrote to the Chief Justice of India, and other Supreme Court Judges, on March,31 regarding the migrant workers and their condition in wake of to the 21 day Nationwide lockdown that has been imposed.
For the first time in India’s history, a 21-day total lockdown has been imposed to fight the deadly COVID-19 pandemic. On March 24, Prime Minister announced measures to curb the spread of this virus, imposing a 21 day lockdown in the Country
India, post the lockdown has seen what maybe called one of the biggest migrations in the history of this Country. The lockdown resulting in shutting down of businesses and almost all operations, many migrant workers have been left without jobs and food or shelter. Due to this, many workers tried to return to their homes.
Mahua Moitra, addressing this issue has stated in her letter petition that the extreme circumstances being faced by the migrant workers need to be addressed by the Supreme Court urgently.
She has also informed the Court about the numerous messages that she has received from migrant workers from West Bengal who are now stranded in different cities. Acknowledging the need of the lockdown in controlling the spread of COVID -19 in the Country, she has also pointed out that it has led to a humanitarian crisis and thousands of workers had to walk back home and were not even paid wages by their employers.
“While no public spirited citizen disagrees with the intent and rationale behind the lockdown and the ensuing quarantine to contain the pandemic, however the manner of its execution has put in jeopardy the lives of thousands of helpless migrant workers and their families across India.”
Moitra has prayed for the Court to take cognizance of the issue, stating that these workers live in extreme poverty and if no action is taken, there will be deaths due to starvation during the lockdown, and has also requested the Court to issue directions to the executive agencies to make arrangements for the such workers, and ask the employers to provide due wages , food and shelter to these workers, during this crisis.
The Supreme Court while addressing the issue of these migrant workers in another petition had previously directed the authorities to ensure availability of food, drinking water, and medicines to the migrant workers housed in shelters. The Centre, however had submitted that as the morning of March, 31, there were no migrant workers stranded on the roads, and they were being sent to the shelter homes that are available.
The Court is scheduled to hear Mahua Moitra’s petition tomorrow.
-India Legal Bureau