The Supreme Court today (July 9) asked the State of Maharashtra to file an affidavit regarding details of migrants waiting to return home by next week.
A three-judge bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah issued the direction while hearing petitions regarding the situation and plight of migrant labourers in the county in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown.
The government of Maharashtra was confronted by the court for filing an affidavit, saying that everything is fine and good in Maharashtra. The court did not appreciate the state’s stand that it has no knowledge of any deficiency in dealing with migrant workers and that none of the migrants are left to be sent home.
“When you are the state, it is your responsibility to find out which group of migrants are getting food etc. Your affidavit says food is being provided to migrant workers,” Justice Bhushan said.
“File a proper affidavit. You have treated this as an adversarial litigation,” Justice Shah said.
In response to Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal’s statement regarding a national plan for COVID 19, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded by stating that there is a COVID containment plan in place and the same has been mentioned in their affidavit.
Senior Advocate AM Singhvi suggested that the government can consider a constructive scheme for insurance for migrants. There is need of a work plan and centralised system to rehabilitate the migrants and the registration of migrants needs to be insisted upon.
After the nation wide lockdown was imposed in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, several petitions were filed before the Supreme Court seeking relief measures and generation of employment opportunities for the migrant workers.
The court today issued the directions while hearing the following three petitions
· Nachiketa Vajpayee vs Union of India: The petition was filed by Advocate Nachiketa Vajpayee seeking directions for the Centre to instruct local authorities to provide temporary shelter, food, medical assistance, and transport facilities to the migrant workers who were stranded amid the COVID-19 pandemic.It had claimed that the fundamental rights of millions of persons stranded across the country are continue to be grossly violated, causing them immense distress, despite the best efforts of the government.
· Medha Patkar vs Union of India: Public interest petition filed by Medha Patkar on the migrants asking for a uniform platform to be created which can be used by all migrants for the ticketing system. Plea asked for shelter homes and food to be provided to those migrants walking back home on foot and provision of financial help and also a scheme for them to be employed post lockdown.
· In Re Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers: Court’s suo motu petition regarding problems and plight of migrant labourers due to covid pandemic and the lockdown.
The Apex Court on May 26 had taken cognisance of the plight of migrant workers and difficulties faced by them after the announcement of a nation-wide lockdown, and had passed multiple directions to safeguard their interests.
The Court had, again on June 9, directed all states and union territories to transport these migrants free of charge, back to their native places within 15 days & generate employment relief and counselling centres to help reduce their plight.
-India Legal Bureau