Coronavirus lockdown: SC seeks status report from govt. on movement of migrant workers

Scrambling home: Migrant workers boarding a truck to Palwal, Haryana, on the Kondli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway. Ashok Kumar  

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a report from the government on steps taken about the largescale inter-State movement of migrant workers during the 21-day national lockdown on account of the COVID-19 outbreak.

A Bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao was hearing via videoconferencing petitions filed separately by advocates Alakh Alok Srivastava and Rashmi Bansal seeking directions to the government to immediately redress the “heart-wrenching and inhuman plight of thousands of migrant workers” who are walking back to their native villages from the cities without basic essentials in the wake of the lockdown and provide them with medical aid.

‘Stop migration’

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed to file a status report by Tuesday (March 31). The law officer said the migration should be stopped to control the spread of the virus.

Ms. Bansal submitted that counsellors should be deputed to advice people not to panic.

Chief Justice Bobde said the court did not want to comment on anything until the government filed its status report.

Mr. Mehta said a message should not go out to the public that the court was trying to smoothen the process of migration.

The CJI made it clear that the court did not want to create a state of confusion by passing any direction at this point of time while the government was on the job.

Heart-wrenching, says plea

The petition filed by Mr. Srivastava said the sight of migrant workers, forced to walk with their families, which include women, infants, and children without food, water, shelter or medicines was heart-wrenching and inhuman.

The petition asked the court to direct the government to order the local administration/police authorities across India to immediately identify such moving/stranded migrant workers and to immediately shift them to the nearest government shelter homes/accommodations with proper food, water, medicines and under medical supervision, in a dignified manner, till the present lockdown continued.

“Being jobless and stranded, migrants workers are not only struggling to make ends meet, but are now also fighting a stigma as ‘virus’ carriers. Hence, they are not likely to be accepted by their respective villages once they reach there. Even otherwise, it is not safe to allow these migrant labourers, who might be infected from deadly Coronavirus, from mixing up with their village populations, as it may exponentially increase the said virus with fatal consequences,” the petition said.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 8:19:46 AM |

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