The Allahabad High Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh Government inquiring as to the steps being taken to ensure that its natives are not forced to seek employment in other states.
The order has been passed by a Division Bench of Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha in a PIL filed by two practicing Advocates of the high court, highlighting the step-motherly treatment given to the migrant labours in other states.
The bench has ordered the Government to apprise it about the "scheme of the Government for rehabilitation of migrant workmen and their families in the State of Uttar Pradesh itself. The State is also required to give a complete layout to reduce migration of the natives of Uttar Pradesh to other parts of the country to earn minimum livelihood."
The Government is required to file its response in the matter by June 1, 2020.
The Petitioners, Advocates Gaurav Tripathi and Ritesh Srivastava had submitted that due to non-availability of basic infrastructure for employment in the State of Uttar Pradesh, lakhs of people migrate to the other States to earn their livelihood.
The order further recorded,
"Such migration is not at all wrong as the entire India is a union but the present attitude of the State Governments, where these people were working, is contrary to the spirit of union and federal structure, therefore, it is more necessary for the State of Uttar Pradesh to strengthen its edifice for local employment."
Underlining the miseries being faced by the migrant workers the Petitioners had submitted that neither the Central Government nor the State Governments where the labourers were working made adequate arrangements for their movement and their families. In the absence of adequate arrangements, the labourers and their families were facing pathetic conditions on roads. It was also pointed out that even at Railway Stations no food was being made available and hence, the people travelling in "Shramik Special" were facing starvation.
Though the high court refused to indulge in this aspect as the Supreme Court is already seized of this matter in suo moto proceedings, it has asked the State Government to file a report indicating the policy for providing medical facilities to the migrant workmen and their families.
"So far as the issue with regard to transportation and providing food for so called "Migrant Labourers" is concerned, Hon'ble Supreme Court has already taken suo moto cognizance today in a PIL - "Re-Inadequacy and certain Lapses on the part of the Central and State Governments in dealing with the Migrant Workers". Therefore, we are not inclined to have any explanation in this regard from the State Government. However, we deem it appropriate to call upon the State to explain about the policy and norms for providing medical facilities and treatment to the migrant workmen and their families…," the bench said.
In the said case on Tuesday, the Supreme Court had issued notices to the Government of India as well as all State Governments and Union Territories and directed them to ensure that adequate transport arrangement, food and shelters are immediately provided to the migrant workers, free of cost.
Another issue raised by the Petitioners was that the unregulated movement of migrant labours across states on foot, may also accelerate chances of spread of Coronavirus disease in all major towns and rural areas.
Expressing concern over this, the bench has asked the State Government to address this aspect in its report.
"We deem it appropriate to call upon the State to explain about the policy and norms to…stop spreading of Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in rural parts of the State of Uttar Pradesh," the order states.
The Petitioners had pressed the migrants' right to live with dignity. They had also asserted that there is no term like "Migrant Labourer" or "Migrant Workmen". The statute prescribes only the labourer or workmen hence, it was the responsibility of the State Governments where the workmen or labourers were working, to provide them all necessary facilities and amenities during the lockdown.
Case Title: Ritesh Srivastava & Anr. v. State of UP
Case No.: PIL No. 583/2020
Quorum: Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Ramesh Sinha
Appearance: Advocate Ritesh Srivastava (for Petitioners); Additional Advocate General Manish Goyal (for State)
Click Here To Download Order