The Supreme Court on Thursday pulled up the State of Maharashtra for its lackadaisical approach in filing a detailed affidavit in the suo motu case pertaining to the problems and miseries of migrant workers.
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, SK Kaul & MR Shah stated that since the instant suo motu case was not adversarial in nature, it was the duty of the State of Maharashtra to file a detailed affidavit and apprise the Court of the real time issues faced by Migrants.
"Not an adversarial litigation. Duty of state to highlight and act on lapses. State of Maharashtra to file an affidavit regarding details of migrants awaiting to return to state of Maharashtra by next week"- Supreme Court
The bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta representing the State of Maharashtra to "better advise the state" to file an affidavit regarding details of migrants awaiting to return to state of Maharashtra by next week.
Justice Bhushan: "Your affidavit is not up to the mark. The affidavit required to be filed was not for making statements on your behalf. We can't accept the state's claim that there is no problem in the State of Maharashtra. You must advise the State to file a proper one."
The Court was taking stock of its suo motu case along with IA's and pleas filed for purposes of issuance of directions for safeguarding rights of Migrant Workers.
The case filed by Centre for Public Interest litigation seeking setting up of a National Covid Plan was also taken up by the Court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta stated that a national plan termed "Covid Containment Plan" was already on record and a copy of the same shall be supplied to parties by tomorrow evening.
In thus backdrop, the case was adjourned to July 17 for further consideration.
In May, the Top Court had taken took Suo Motu cognisance of the problems and miseries of migrant labourers who have been stranded in different parts of the country amid the Coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Vide a suo motu order titled "IN RE: Problems and Miseries of Migrant Labourers" the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul & MR Shah state that even though the issue is being addressed at both State and Central levels, "effective and concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation".
In this backdrop, the Court had passed a slew of significant directions such as non-charging of fares for migrant workers for travel, providing free of cost food by the concerned state and UT to them, simplifying and speeding up the process of registration of migrants and ensuring that those walking on roads are immediately taken to shelters and provided food.
Subsequently, on June 5, before reserving orders after hearing Centre, State and few intervenors, the bench had observed that it was mulling to grant 15 days time to authorities to transport migrants to their native places. It went on to pass directions in this regard:
1) All States and UTs to identify stranded migrants and transport them back to native places within 15 days;
2) States to consider withdrawal of all cases filed against migrants under Disaster Management Act for lockdown violations, for attempting to walk to native places, crowding at stations etc;
3) In event of demand of Shramiktrains, the railways shall provide trains within 24 hours;
4) Provide all schemes to migrant workers and publicise them. Help desks to be established to help migrants to avail employment opportunities;
5) Centre and states to prepare a list for identification of migrant workers in a streamlined manner;
6) Employment relief to be mapped out and skill-mapping to be carried out for migrants;
7) Counselling centres to be established to find a way back for return travel, if they want to.
On June 19, the bench clarified that its June 9 order for transportation of migrant workers to their hometowns within 15 days was mandatory.
Several intervenors such as Activist Medha Patekar & Advocate Nachiketa Vajpayee had also filed their respective pleas seeking issuance of specific directions for the benefit of migrant workers.