The Karnataka High Court has asked the state government to place on record its policy laying down the manner in which all the migrant workers who wish to travel back to their home States can be allowed to travel back to their respective States.
"We direct the State to place on record in what manner the State is going to arrange for operation of special trains for the benefit of migrants", the Court said.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna while hearing a plea filed by All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), said "We make it clear that the policy of the State Government should take care of all categories of migrant workers irrespective of the fact whether they are in their own shelters or in shelters provided by their employers or shelters provided by the State or whether they are on streets."
The Court noted in the order :
"The consequences of migrants being compelled to walk up to their respective home States are well known and in fact, it cannot be disputed that many such migrants have lost their lives because of the accidents on the roads and on railway tracks. In some cases, as a result of undertaking a long walk and hunger, migrants have lost their lives".
On Tuesday May 5, the state government had late evening decided to cancel the special trains started to transport migrant labourers to their home states. After much uproar by citizens on Thursday the government resumed the service.
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The Additional Advocate General assured the court that the State is making arrangements to enable the migrant workers to travel back to their respective States after following the guidelines which are laid down by the Government of India.
To which the court said "What is most important is that there has to be a rational policy of the State Government which will ensure that the rights of the migrant workers under sub-clause (d) of Clause (1) of Article 19 read with Article 14 of the Constitution are not infringed and that the migrant workers are made aware of the existence of such policy."
To a statement made by the state counsel that migrants are in various shelters. The bench said "If the migrants become aware about the policy of the State Government, it will ensure that they do not undertake the adventure of walking from their respective places towards their home States. The consequences of migrants being compelled to walk up to their respective home States are well known and in fact, it cannot be disputed that many such migrants have lost their lives because of the accidents on the roads and on railway tracks. In some cases, as a result of undertaking a long walk and hunger, migrants have lost their lives."
Counsel for All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) submitted that those migrants who wish to travel back to their respective States should be permitted to travel with dignity. Justice Oka said "We are sure that the State will consider this suggestion in the light of the fundamental rights available to the migrants like all other citizens."
The court also directed the state to act on complaints received of contractors or employers confining the migrant workers to their shelters and not permitting them to go to their respective home States.The State Government will have to attend to such complaints and will have to ensure that the migrants are not harassed in this fashion.
The bench will further hear the plea on May 12.
Click here to download order