Public interest litigation (PIL) filed in the Supreme Court to allow migrant workers across the country to go back to their homes amid the extended lockdown after being tested for COVID-19. They are the worst affected group in today’s time; says the petition filed by Advocates Prashant Bhushan, Neha Rathi, Jatin Bhardwaj and former Dean of IIM(Ahmedabad) Jagdeep Chhokar.
Problems faced by Migrant Workers
“Media reports show that migrant workers are protesting on streets in some places due to non-payment of wages.”
Many migrant workers wanted to return to their home. As a matter of fact, this was visible from the sudden rush at the start of the 21-days national lockdown that led to gatherings at bus terminals, and deaths of such workers who tried to travel hundreds of kilometres on foot.
Additionally, the petition urged that with the possibility of its further extension, similar incidents are likely to repeat resulting in problems of public order and public health. The petition refers to a status report by the Centre in another case that only 25 lakh migrant workers were being taken care of. While their actual number is between from 4 to 12 crore.
Violative of Articles 14, 19, 21
The Centre had ceased all internal migration to prevent the pandemic from spreading. Thus, the petitioners appeal against the violation of their fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution.
For the reason, it asserts that the fundamental right of the migrant workers given under Article 19(1)(d) (right to move freely throughout the territory of India) and Article 19(1)(e) (right to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India) cannot be suspended for an unknown period.
The petition suggests that those who test negative for COVID-19 must not be forcefully kept in shelters against their wishes. Secondly, the government should allow for their safe travel to their hometowns and villages. Also, the necessary transportation for the same should be provided. Lastly, the petition suggests arrangements for testing be made for all the travellers either in the state of their departure or arrival.
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