Bombay High Court asks state to file detailed reply on migrant workers
The Bombay High Court has asked the state to file a detailed report by June 2 over a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) concerning the state of migrant labourers. The PIL sought relief for migrant workers who are opting to take Shramik special trains or buses to return to their native places amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
The division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice KK Tated has asked the state to elaborate on the procedure that a migrant worker is required to follow to be eligible to leave Maharashtra. The bench has also asked the state to specify the waiting period of the migrant labourers to board a train or bus, the nature of shelter being made available to them and the details of provisions made available for their sustenance.
The CITU, which was represented by senior counsel Gayatri Singh along with advocates Kranti LC and Ronita Bhattacharya Bector, informed the court that migrant workers who had applied to leave the state are left in the dark about the status of their applications and are being forced to live in unhygienic shelters without food and other basic essentials till they can board the trains or buses.
In response, additional solicitor general Anil Singh - on behalf of the central government - informed the bench that the plight of the migrant workers had been taken care of by a detailed order of the Supreme Court passed on May 28 and that the measures are to be implemented by all states and reports to be filed by them.
After perusing the apex court order, the Bombay High Court bench noted that the directions were issued to all states for simplifying and expediting registration process for migrant workers and to provide them with a helpdesk at the places where they are stranded.
As the SC is to hear the petition on June 5, the bench observed, “At this stage, neither are we empowered nor do we wish to make any order contrary to the spirit of the order of the Supreme Court. However, having regard to the peculiar local conditions, we consider it fit and proper to call upon the State to file a report.”
The bench further stated that it had come across photographs in newspapers showing congregation of migrant workers on railway platforms and on the adjoining streets.
“Such congregation, if allowed, would run counter to the object, for which the lockdown has been imposed,” said the bench. After asking the state to file a detailed report, the bench posted the matter for hearing on June 2.