Considering the plight of migrant labourers who are without food, the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the State Government to provide ration supplies to migrant labourers, after satisfying that they are really migrant labourers, irrespective of whether they have ration cards or not.
The bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran and V. M. Velumani was informed that the State Government has announced that ration supplies would be provided only to card holders, while there are lakhs of migrant labourers, who are without ration cards and they will be put to unnecessary trouble. It was also brought to the notice of this Court that the Government of West Bengal has announced that even migrant labourers, who are without ration cards would be provided with ration materials.
The Court was hearing Habeas Corpus pleas in respect of some bonded labourers allegedly detained illegally by the police, and over 400 other Tamil workers similarly detained by Maharashtra police.
The Division Bench noted that the Apex Court in its suo motu cognisance "IN RE : PROBLEMS AND MISERIES OF MIGRANT LABOURERS" by order dated 09.06.2020 gave liberty to the respective High Courts to proceed with the case of Migrant Labourers which were already pending. The relevant portion of the order reads as follows. "25.It has also been brought before us that various High Courts have also taken notice of cases of migrant labourers, High Courts being constitutional Courts are well within their jurisdiction to take cognizance of violation of fundamental rights of migrant workers and we have no doubt that those proceedings shall proceed after considering all aspects including the response of concerned authorities."
"The aforesaid order has not been brought to the notice of this Court while closing the Habeas Corpus Petitions", commented the bench, in reviving the aforesaid Habeas pleas.
Moreover, the Court pulled up the Centre and the state government for not answering the queries raised by order of May 15.
Vide the said order, the court had suo motu impleaded the Central Government and the Government of Tamil Nadu, and sought the following information from them :
1. Whether any data is being maintained by the Government of India regarding the details of migrant workers working in each State/Union Territories in India?
2. If so, what is the number of migrant workers in each State/Union Territories in India and the details regarding their nativity?
3. What is the number of migrant workers stranded in each State/Union Territories in India as on today?
4. What are all the assistance provided to those migrant workers by the respective States as well as the Union Government?
5. Whether those migrant workers are allowed to cross the State borders or prevented from crossing the borders and if they are prevented, whether they are provided with basic amenities such as food, shelter and medical assistance?
6. How many migrant workers died on their way to the native States?
7. To which States/Union Territories, the deceased workers belong to?
8. What are the relief measures/compensation provided to the families of those migrant workers who lost their lives on their way back to their native States?
9. How many migrant workers in each State/Union Territories have been evacuated from their working States to their native States through buses/trains throughout India?
10.What are all the steps taken to transport the remaining people to their native States?
11.Whether migration of people is one of the reasons for spread of Covid-19?
12.Whether the Central Government has instructed the respective States/Union Territories to provide financial assistance, job opportunities in their native State/Union Territories for the labourers who migrated from other States?
The bench has directed the both the governments to place before the Court an 'Action Taken Report' on these aspects.
On Thursday, the Court also took cognisance of the incident of pregnant wife of a migrant labourer, who developed labour pain, was denied admission in Government as well Private Hospitals for want of corona free certificate. This had led to the unfortunate situation of the lady delivering the baby in the autorickshaw itself and the new born child had fallen from the autorickshaw and sustained injuries immediately after its birth.
Lamenting that "it is really unfortunate that such a treatment had been meted out to a new born baby", the bench remarked "merely because the parents are migrant labourers necessary medical facilities cannot be denied to them".
"Although the details of the said migrant labourer have not been provided by the petitioner, he would state that the incident had happened at Thudiyalur in Coimbatore District and it was also telecast in a news channel", observed the bench, directing that based on the said information, the authorities concerned shall verify, trace out the migrant labourer's family and provide all necessary medical assistance.
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