The Supreme Court has taken suo motu (on its own) action of the problems of the migrant labourers. “We take suo motu cognizance of problems and miseries of migrant labourers; who were stranded in different parts of the country,” held the Supreme Court.
A three-Judge Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul and MR Shah passed the order.
Plight of Migrant Labourers
PM Narendra Modi announced the lockdown on March 23 due to COVID-19; this left the migrant workers across the country in awful conditions as they lost their livelihood and means to live. The lockdown caused reverse-migration of thousands of migrant workers from metro cities to villages. As per reports, many migrants, walked hundreds of kilometres on foot; to reach their native places, due to lack of transportation facilities. Reportedly, at least 130 persons lost their lives while trying to get home during the lockdown.
“The newspaper reports and the media reports are continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on-foot and cycles from long distances. They are also complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places; where they were stranded or in the way i.e. highways; from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport;” said the Apex Court referring to the plight of the migrant labourers.
In the present situation of nationwide-lockdown, this section of the society needs help and the Government of India, State Governments / Union Territories need to take steps in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers.
Order by the Supreme Court
In its order, the three-judge Bench stated that it had received letters and representation from different sectors describing the plight of migrant workers. The crisis of migrant labourers continues even today; with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and State borders.
The Court directed the Centre and State Governments to provide adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters immediately free of costs. The Supreme Court stated, although the Centre and the states have taken measures, but there have been certain lapses. Therefore, it issued notices to the Union of India and all States / Union Territories to submit their responses looking into the urgency of the matter.
The next listing of this matter is on 28 May, 2020.