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Rights Of Repatriated Indian Workers : Kerala HC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Effective Mechanism To Address Claims & Grievances

Viswajith Anand
7 July 2020 4:59 AM GMT
Rights Of Repatriated Indian Workers : Kerala HC Issues Notice On Plea Seeking Effective Mechanism To Address Claims & Grievances
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The Kerala High Court has issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Labour & Employment, Govt of Kerala & NORKA roots in a writ petition filed seeking an effective mechanism that will document and capture all kind of claims and grievances of repatriated Indian Migrant workers.

The petition was filed in the form of a Public Interest Litigation by Lawyers Beyond Borders, an international network of legal experts, advocating for the rights of migrant workers.

Indian Migrants Are The Worst Affected Group Of Workers.

The petition stated that the Indian migrants in the destination countries are the worst affected group of workers during the Covid-19 pandemic and majority of those workers are returning empty handed and are prone to various exploitations.

"Indian migrants in destination countries are the worst affected group of workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. With the help of Government's repatriation program large numbers of workers have already returned to the home land. The majorities of those workers are returning empty-handed and are prone to debt-bondage" , PV Surendranath ,Senior Advocate submitted on behalf of the Petitioner.

A large number of employers at the destination countries are taking advantage of mass repatriation programs to terminate and return workers who have not been paid their dues. And the same are clear examples of "Wage theft", as claimed by the Petitioner.

Major Concerns of the Petition.

The documentation shall be done at both Indian missions abroad and upon return to the country through concerned ministries.

The Respondents,Central Government and the respective state government must comply the order of the Supreme Court in Suo Motu Writ Petition (C) No.6/2020 were the Supreme Court had issued directions to the Central government and State Governments in establishing various measures to help migrant labourers like Counselling centres/help desk at all levels and devise a proper mechanism to document the details of the migrant workers.

Focus must be given to the international obligations.

Need For "Transitional Justice Mechanism".

The Petitioner urged for the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism, which consists of both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, including prosecution initiatives, reparations, truth seeking, institutional reform ,etc. According to the Petitioner the Transitional Justice Mechanism is for documenting and capturing all kinds of claims and grievances of repatriated Indian migrant workers for negotiating and availing legal remedy for their rights including reduced or non -payment of wages, denial of other entitlements and workplace discriminations etc in the future.

The following are the reliefs sought for :

The Respondents must establish a Transitional Justice Mechanism immediately for documenting and capturing all kinds of claims and grievances of repatriated Indian migrant workers for negotiating and availing legal remedy for their rights including reduced or non-payment of wages, denial of other entitlements and workplace discrimination etc in future.

The Respondent must immediately formulate a mechanism for documenting and capturing all kinds of claims and grievances of Indian migrant workers, to be returned from countries of destinations, through concerned Indian Missions/Embassies, for negotiating and availing legal remedy for their rights including reduced or non-payment of wages, denial of other entitlements and workplace discrimination etc in future

The Respondents must introduce an effective technique for documenting and capturing all kinds of claims and grievances of families of Indian migrant workers who are died in abroad during Covid-19 to raise their claims for compensation/insurance etc in future.

The matter is posted for further hearing on 16.07.2020. 

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