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HC asks state to reply to PIL on state of migrants

By K A Y Dodhiya, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 30, 2020 11:54 PM IST

A division bench of the Bombay high court (HC), while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (Citu) seeking relief for migrant workers opting for special Shramik trains or buses to return to their hometowns, has asked the state to file a detailed report by June 2.

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 follow to be eligible to leave Maharashtra, the waiting period thereafter for a migrant to board a train or bus, nature of shelter being made available for them and the provisions made available for sustenance.

Citu, 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 an order of the Supreme Court passed on May 28 detailed on the measures to be taken for the migrant workers, and that all states were asked to implement the same and file reports.

After perusing the apex court order, the bench noted that directions were issued to all states for simplifying and expediting registration process for migrant workers and to provide helpdesks at 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 not only on railway platforms but also on the streets adjoining railway stations. “Such congregation, if allowed, would run counter to the object, for which the lockdown has been imposed,” said the bench.

The bench has posted the matter for hearing on June 2.

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