The Bombay High Court on Tuesday refused to pass directions facilitating movement of allegedly stranded migrant workers in the State of Maharashtra to West Bengal, noting the pendency of the suo moto case on migrants issue before the SC.
The bench also took into consideration the submissions of Advocate General that the last time a train left for West Bengal it did not have too many migrant labours on board.
"We do not consider it appropriate to pass any order at this stage for facilitating movement of alleged stranded migrant labours to West Bengal, as prayed for by Ms. Singh, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the petitioners. In our view, it would only be just and appropriate not to dispose of the PIL Petition at this stage and to await further orders that might be passed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in respect of migrant labours", the bench ordered.
A Division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai was hearing a PIL filed by Centre For Indian Trade Unions and others pointing out the plight of migrants workers in the State who have been left stranded and are forced to live unhygienic conditions during this pandemic.
The bench referred to the Supreme Court's order dated July 9 wherein the top court expressed displeasure over the State's reluctance to file a detailed affidavit in a suo motu case regarding the plight of migrant workers and observed :
"On a reading thereof, it appears that the order is specific to the State of Maharashtra. The Hon'ble Supreme Court expressed its displeasure at the State's reluctance to find out whether there are migrant labourers, stranded in Maharashtra, who are willing to leave for their hometown."
The Supreme Court has sought the State's response in a detailed affidavit. The next date of hearing before the apex court is July 17, 2020.
Previously, when the petitioners contended that migrant workers have been left in the dark over applications for travelling in Shramik Trains started by the Railways for movement of these workers to their native places during the lockdown, State government told the High Court that currently there is no demand from migrant workers for shramik trains.
Appearing for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Gayatri Singh on Tuesday submitted that the state's contention that there is no demand for shramik trains currently by the migrant workers was incorrect. Moreover, the petitioner Union has got in touch with several migrant workers and learnt that there are almost 56,000 labourers who still wish to travel back to their native place. Many of these labourers are from West Bengal, Singh said.
To this, Chief Justice Dipankar Datta, who was permanent judge of Calcutta High Court for 14 year before being appointed Chief Justice in April, retorted-
"Do you know the situation in West Bengal? The state government at one point did not permit migrants to return home, we do not want to say anything against anyone but the situation was not handled properly."
Moreover, Advocate General AA Kumbhakoni submitted that the last time a train left for West Bengal it did not have too many migrant labourers on board.
The matter will now be listed for hearing in the first week of August.
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