The Bombay High Court's bench at Aurangabad on Wednesday while hearing a suo motu public interest litigation through video conferencing sought a reply from all district collectors within it's jurisdiction on whether any efforts have been taken by the local administration to have facility of psychological counseling of stranded migrants in order to ensure that they are not driven to any extreme step or do not suffer psychological trauma.
Justice RV Ghuge's direction is significant particularly in the backdrop of what took place in Bandra, Mumbai and Mumbra area of Thane district on April 14 when hundreds of stranded labourers rushed to the streets demanding to be allowed to travel back to their native place leading to chaos as police finally dispersed the crowd using lathi charge. Several migrants were arrested as well for violating the lockdown.
Court was informed by the Amicus Curiae Amol Joshi about a similar PIL before the principal seat at Bombay in respect of the districts covered under the jurisdiction of the principal seat. Similarly, he prayed for liberty to add the district collectors of all the districts within the jurisdiction of Aurangabad bench.
Reply on the following questions was sought from such District Collectors-
(a) The number of migrant labourers in these districts.
(b) Whether there are any shelter homes available for taking care of such migrants, who are unable to travel to their native places, in view of the travel ban considering the lock-down now being extended till May 3?
(c) Whether any efforts have been taken by the local administration to have the facility of psychological counseling of such migrants in order to ensure that they are not driven to any extreme step or do not suffer psychological trauma?
The bench directed all such district collectors to be added as respondents in the case and asked Government Pleader DR Kale to instruct the district collectors, to prepare data in view of the issues as noted above and tender the data before the Court. Two weeks time has been granted to collect such data.
Moreover, Court had asked the amicus curiae as well as Government Pleader Kale to take note of certain news reports, which indicate that the Doctors, Medical and Para Medical Staff, who are deeply involved in extending medical facilities in so far as carrying out the tests of the suspected Coronavirus patients and their treatments, are facing threats from residents of their own localities.
These residents want such Doctors, Medical and Para Medical Staff to leave their residential localities as they fear that these people would carry the virus and transmit such infection to the other residents. Furthermore, it was also reported that such Doctors, Medical and Para Medical Staff are being threatened, abuses are being hurled at them and threats of physical assault have also been made.
Government Pleader Kale assured the Court that not only would the local administration ensure that such Doctors, Medical and Para Medical Staff involved in the battle against Covid-19 pandemic are adequately protected, but the local administration would be instructed to ensure sufficient security, to ensure that they are not subjected to any such threats or demands for vacating their residential premises.
This matter will now be heard on the first day Court reopens on or after May 4.
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