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'Migrant Workers Being Charged for Travelling Back Home': Petitioners In Migrant Case Tells SC [Read Affidavit]

Radhika Roy
4 May 2020 3:35 PM GMT
Migrant Workers Being Charged for Travelling Back Home: Petitioners In Migrant Case Tells SC [Read Affidavit]
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A Supplementary Affidavit raising the issue of migrant workers being charged for travelling back home has been filed before the Supreme Court in the plea seeking for directions to allow migrant workers across the country to return to their hometowns and villages, and to arrange for their safe travel by providing necessary transportation to this effect. Filed by Advocate Prashant...

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A Supplementary Affidavit raising the issue of migrant workers being charged for travelling back home has been filed before the Supreme Court in the plea seeking for directions to allow migrant workers across the country to return to their hometowns and villages, and to arrange for their safe travel by providing necessary transportation to this effect. 

Filed by Advocate Prashant Bhushan on behalf of Petitioners Jagdeep S. Chhokar, former Director-in-Charge of IIM, Ahmedabad, and Advocate Gaurav Jain, the Affidavit avers that the States should not be charging stranded migrant workers who have negligible financial support and zero earnings, for their journey back home.

On 29th April, the Ministry of Home Affairs had issued an Order wherein migrant workers, pilgrims, tourists and other persons who are stranded at different places were allowed to move back to their residence/home towns. The Order further mentioned that buses/road were to be the mode of transportation, and on the basis of a PIB notification dated 1st May, the Indian Railways were to commence operations to transport these people back to their homes.

The Affidavit also refers to a report published by Stranded Workers Action Network (SWAN) which states that around 50% of migrant workers are left with rations that would last them for less than a day, and this has remained unchanged since the national lockdown began.

"4 out of 5 workers who reached out do not have access to government rations, while 68% still do not have access to cooked food. The report further states that with no cash relief for migrants, 64% have less than Rs. 100 left with them and that more than 97% have not received any cash relief from the government".

ISSUE REGARDING APPROVAL OF BOTH THE STATES FOR TRAVEL OF MIGRANT WORKERS

The Affidavit rejects the advisory mandating two States to deliberate upon the movement of a migrant worker and raises the contention that the ability of a migrant worker to return back to his/her native place should not be contingent upon a State's willingness to take them and it should be the Centre's obligation to allow for their travel.

The MHA Order has left it upon the States to allow the travel of migrants to/from other States. Therefore, the movement of a migrant worker is contingent upon the approval of the States.

"It is submitted that all the migrant workers who wish to go back to their native hometowns and villages should be allowed to go back after screening as a matter of right and no migrant desirous of travelling back to his/her home should be left behind".

NARROW SCOPE OF ELIGIBILITY BY INCLUSION OF "STRANDED" MIGRANT WORKERS

It also submitted in the Affidavit that the addition of "stranded" to the definition of migrant workers in the MHA Order is problematic as it narrows down the scope of eligibility of those who can avail the facility of travelling back home. This could invariably end up excluding millions who have lost all their income and savings, and merely wish to go back to their native villages.

"The Centre is taking a narrow view of the category of people who are eligible for travel under Home Ministry's Order dated 29.04.2020 and resultantly, many migrant workers who may not be living in shelter homes/relief camps and might be stuck in rented accomodations may be excluded from the Centre's definition of the word 'stranded' qua the order dated 29.04.2020".

MIGRANT WORKERS ARE BEING CHARGED FOR TAKING BUSES

The Affidavit refers to various news reports which have contended that the migrant workers are being charged to take buses. Furthermore, it has been reported that Indian Railways is actually hiking its fare by Rs. 50 per passenger.

"That migrant workers are being required to pay around Rs. 800 as train fares and the same is highly unjustified"; this statement has been highlighted in the Affidavit on the basis that the migrant workers have been stranded for no fault of their own, with zero earnings and financial support.

"Therefore, it must be made clear that the Railways and the States would not be charging the migrant workers for the train and bus travel being arranged for them".

The Supplementary Affidavit was filed along with an Application requesting for urgent hearing. The matter will be listed tomorrow before the Supreme Court.

Click Here To Download Affidavit

[Read Affidavit]




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