The Supreme Court on Tuesday took suo motu cognizance of problems of migrant labourers who were stranded in different parts of the country during the nationwide lockdown to contain Covid-19 outbreak.
The Supreme Court said the media reports have been continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers walking on foot or cycling for long distances.
“Although the government of India and state governments have taken measures, there have been inadequacies and certain lapses. We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation”, said a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S.K. Kaul and M.R. Shah.
The bench posted the matter for hearing on May 28, and asked the Registry to serve a copy to the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, as well states and Union Territories. The cognizance has been taken after several petitions were filed in the top court highlighting the plight of migrant workers during the Covid-19 crisis.
“In the present situation of lockdown in the entire country, this section of society needs succor and help by governments, especially steps need to be taken by the government of India, state governments/Union Territories in this difficult situation to extend helping hand to these migrant labourers,” said the top court.
The top court said it has also received several letters and representations from different sections of society highlighting the problem of migrant labourers. “The crisis of migrant labourers is even continuing today with large sections still stranded on roads, highways, railway stations and state borders”, said the bench.
The adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are immediately to be provided by the Centre and State Governments free of costs, added the bench.
“They (migrants) have also been complaining about not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded or on the way i.e. highways from which they proceeded on foot, cycles or other modes of transport”, said the apex court.
Issuing notice to the Centre and all states/Union Territories, the top court asked them to submit their responses looking into the urgency of the matter.
“We direct the suo motu petition to be taken up day after tomorrow and we request the learned Solicitor General to assist the court, and by the next date of hearing, bring to the notice of the court all measures and steps taken or to be by the government of India in this regard”, said the bench.