Observing that the Karnataka Government was not identifying migrants for transport in the true letter and spirit of Supreme Court directions, the Karnataka High Court has directed the state government to evolve a mechanism which will ensure that each and every migrant worker who has registered himself on Seva Sindhu portal is specifically informed about the requirement of re-registering themselves at Mustering Centre set up by the government at different districts.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna gave the direction after perusing the written submission made by the state in which it is stated that apart from registering on the Seva Sindhu portal, migrant workers desirous of going back to home state will have to re-register themselves at the mustering centres. A total of 18 mustering centres are set up in the state.
Additional Advocate General Dhyan Chinnappa informed the court that those who have already registered on Seva Sindhu portal need not register in Mustering Centres.
However, the bench said
"The order of the Apex Court and the orders passed by this Court require the State Government to adopt a fair and transparent procedure to identify each and every migrant worker who wishes to go back to his/his respective State. However, we find that such identification is not being made by the State Government in its true letter and spirit. Without providing for a fair and transparent process to ascertain how many migrants who have already registered on Seva Sindhu portal are no longer interested in going back, a stand has been taken in the Circular of 5th June 2020 that there should be a fresh registration at the Mustering Centres. Those who have registered long back on Seva Sindhu portal are not made aware that they will have to visit the Mustering Centres to register themselves once again and therefore, so many migrant workers will be deprived of an opportunity to go back to their respective States."
The bench also pulled up the government for submitting different statistics of migrant workers desirous of wanting to go back to the Apex court and the High court.
On June 4, the state informed the high court that about 9,13,742 migrant workers have registered themselves as on May 30, on a portal for going back to their respective States. The written submissions dated June 4 shows that there were a total of 7,04,779 stranded migrant workers in different districts as on 1st June 2020.
As on June 1, around 3,07,661 have gone back to their respective States by Railways and about 25,431 migrant workers have gone back to their respective States by buses. However, the stand of the state on June 5, before the Apex court was that less than 1,00,000 migrant workers remain in the State of Karnataka who want to go back to their respective States.
The bench said "It is very difficult to understand how within a span of one day, the figure has drastically come down to less than 1,00,000."
It concluded by saying that
"From the written submissions which are filed today and earlier, we must record that there is no rational and fair system adopted by the State Government to identify each and every migrant worker who wants to go back to his/her respective States and thereafter, to make arrangements for their transport to their respective places."
It has directed the state to file further written submission by June 16 and posted the matter for further hearing on June 18.
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