SC Adjourns PIL Seeking Reliefs for Migrant Workers

A PIL filed seeking immediate payment of wages to migrant workers amid COVID-19 lockdown. Filed by Harsh Mander and Anjali Bhardwaj, the PIL was heard today by the SC. A bench comprising of Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul & Deepak Gupta said it received the central government’s affidavit the morning of the hearing and adjourned the hearing of the PIL till April 13.

Appearing for the petitioner, Prashant Bhushan submitted that more than 4 lakh migrant workers were living in shelter homes. Terming it “a mockery of social distancing”. He further added that according to their survey reports, more than 40% of these workers did not try to migrate. He said they are living in their own homes in the cities. With no money to buy even one day’s meal.

Upon hearing Bhushan, the CJI asked that if the migrant workers were being provided meals then why did they need money for it. Thus, Advocate Bhushan replied: “They don’t just need food in the shelter homes, we need to give them money to send to their families back home”. Advocate Bhushan further submitted that the food which was being served at the Shelter homes was “inedible”. The CJI replying to Bhushan’s submissions said, “We are not experts and don’t intend to interfere without knowing what it is all about. We do not plan to supplant the wisdom of the government with our wisdom. We will ask the government to create a helpline for complaints.”

Bhushan exclaimed that by the next date of hearing many people will die. However, the bench refused to change the next date. It has directed Bhushan to go through the Affidavit filed by the central government in the meantime. The Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government said, “We are looking into what are the complaints received. The call centre is set up. The home minister is monitoring the helpline daily“.

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